He’s tall. Six feet, nine inches. With broad shoulders and intense eyes.
“I’ve been incarcerated the majority of my life,” says the man, admittedly no saint. But since July 2019, he’s been addled with fear and doubt. That’s when two MPD patrolmen randomly stopped him on the street, handcuffed him and frisked him.
“I was just standing on the corner and officers just pulled up out of nowhere,” he says. “One squad car with two officers, and slapped their hood, like, ‘Hands on hood! Now!’ So I went along with it, you know, but like, I was shocked by what he did next when he forced his finger in my rectum.”
We do not name victims of sexual assault. But the man alleges in a federal civil rights lawsuit that the officer’s invasive search for drugs was sexual assault. Since then, he has worried about further run-ins with these same police.
“Because I don’t want to run across these same officers again, and end up another George Floyd,” he says.
The man’s attorney, Jacob Webster Brown, filed documents last week in U.S. District Court in Memphis accusing MPD officer Christopher Tracy of stopping his client without cause, then assaulting him.
“He doesn’t have a perfect past,” Brown says. “But he did his time. And now the city has basically kicked his case to the curb, covered it up, we suspect, for a year in the hopes that it would just go away.”
Brown says the case is part of a larger pattern. His suit cites evidence from stories by the Institute for Public Service Reporting. Our running investigation has identified seven severe use-of-force cases that MPD declined to send to prosecutors to consider criminal charges. Those cases include the 2015 beating of Daniel Jefferson, and Antonio Strawder, who says he was repeatedly stunned by a Taser in 2016.
Officers received suspensions in those cases but faced no criminal charges. Brown’s client filed a complaint a day after the incident. Available records indicate MPD investigated the matter as a violation of policy — not a crime. That investigation sustained neglect-of-duty allegations against Tracy and a second officer. MPD, Officer Tracy and the City’s attorneys, all declined comment. Brown says the city repeatedly blocked his requests for information prior to filing the suit, and concealed how it handled the case.
“But the question is when is the city going to get serious about policing the police,” Brown asked. “There is a serious problem within the department.”
For Brown’s client, the handling of his case has done little to restore his faith in police.
“I know all cops aren’t bad,” he says. “But the ones that are — why aren’t the good cops saying something about it?”
The City of Memphis is expected to file a formal response to the lawsuit sometime in the next two weeks.