Black Youth File Racial Profiling Complaint Against Medford Police Department

Police Accountability, Racial Justice

Unlawful Traffic Stops Due to Race Persist in Massachusetts

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) filed an internal complaint with the Medford Police Department (MPD) on behalf of Jeremiah Mamousette and Hibaq Warsame, two Black college students who were illegally stopped, removed from their vehicle, searched, handcuffed and held at gunpoint in their hometown by nearly a dozen MPD officers in full view of the public road.  

On the afternoon of July 8, 2021, Mr. Mamousette and Ms. Warsame were driving through the Winthrop Street rotary in Medford when they noticed a number of police cruisers, some of which were making U-turns in the road to travel in their direction. A cruiser immediately behind them turned on its blue police lights and ordered them out of the vehicle over the loudspeaker. MPD officers then proceeded to unlawfully search Mr. Mamousette and Ms. Warsame and restrain them with handcuffs, without giving any explanation for the stop or the officers’ activity. A number of officers remained nearby with their guns trained on Mr. Mamousette and Ms. Warsame for the entirety of the interaction. The officers did not discover anything of concern during the illegal search and eventually shared that they had stopped the two because of a vague anonymous tip regarding a gun. Rather than apologizing, MPD officers referred to the entire interaction as standard policy. 

“We were unlawfully stopped, handcuffed, and searched at gunpoint not long after the police killings of George FloydDaunte Wright, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo,” said Mr. Mamousette. “All I could think during this entire traumatic encounter was that we would be the next names on the list of victims.” 

“I just remember standing on that public rotary with my face in the sun as each person drove by and seemed to stare,” said Ms. Warsame. “I begged the officer to let me cover my face and explained that I graduated from Medford High School and am a good kid, but my pleas fell on deaf ears.” 

LCR frequently brings complaints and lawsuits to hold police accountable, seeking redress for victims of racial profiling. “It is disheartening to have to continue to bring these complaints for misconduct against police departments in Massachusetts,” said Sophia Hall, Deputy Litigation Director at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “How many lawsuits do we need to bring before police departments learn that they are not immune from the law and that they are not hidden from our radar?”

Today’s complaint seeks redress for the unlawful conduct experienced by Mr. Mamousette and Ms. Warsame. If the internal complaint is not resolved amicably and expeditiously, LCR stands ready to take further legal action against MPD.

Click here to download the complaint.