Loudoun NAACP Presses Sheriff’s Office Reforms After Alleged Racial Profiling Incident

A July 23 traffic stop conducted by Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputies involving a Black man has led to calls for the department to investigate the incident, terminate the deputies and pay for damages.

The Loudoun NAACP held a press conference Friday morning outside the Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Leesburg to highlight an incident of alleged racial profiling, in which a Black driver was pulled over for a defective rear brake light and was detained while his car was searched for drugs. The organization is demanding the Sheriff’s Office investigate the traffic stop, fire the five deputies involved, and pay for damages to the man’s car. It also wants the county to form a citizens’ review board help ensure similar cases don’t happen in the future.

That July 23 traffic stop saw five Sheriff’s deputies detain Kaheem Arkim Smith after initially pulling him over along Rt. 7 for a defective rear brake light. Smith on Friday said deputies told him to step out of his car after he reached for his registration. He said there were eventually five deputies on the scene. He was handcuffed and deputies began to search his car after a police dog allegedly indicated the presence of drugs in the car.

Smith said he did not consent to a search and that the deputies tore his back seat apart and left it that way. Smith said the deputies told him he could not film the interaction—although filming law enforcement officers in public is legal, and he was able to film a portion of it.

He filed a formal complaint with the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.

“This should not be happening in these times,” he said.

According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, the deputies found nothing of consequence and issued Smith a warning for an improper brake light. The department noted that the traffic stop was conducted as part of an ongoing investigation and stated information on the incident it would release is limited.

The statement read that all complaints are investigated “to the fullest extent and all disciplinary measures are vettedoutsideof the LCSO by the Loudoun County Government Human Resources Department and the County Attorney’s Office.”

According to a July 23 Facebook post by Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas, the NAACP demands “the immediate investigation and termination of all LCSO deputies involved in the racial profiling and harassment of Mr. Smith” and “the immediate formation of a LCSO citizens review board with subpoena power.”

Thomas on Friday asked Sheriff Mike Chapman to release the deputies’ body camera and dash camera footage and audio and demanded that the Sheriff’s Office immediately pay for the damage done to Smith’s car.

“Come and pick it up,” she said. “You will not get away with this.”

Thomas said the Loudoun NAACP demands justice and accountability, following recent public affirmation from the Board of Supervisors—specifically Supervisors Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) and Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin)—that there is no systemic racism in the Sheriff’s Office.

“I come to say foul,” she said, noting that Smith was “accused and assailed” by the deputies.

Thomas said the Sheriff’s Office told her that deputies would not engage in “frivolous” traffic stops during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. She said the deputies exerted a “power play” by taking Smith’s wallet while he was being detained and that “the intimidation factor is real.”

“This is not acceptable in Loudoun County,” she said.

Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell said that if the Sheriff’s Office conducts an internal investigation of the incident, it should release an external report.

A vide of the traffic stop, recorded by Smith, can be seen on Thomas’ Facebook page here.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

Kaheem Arkim Smith talks about a July 23 traffic stop in which he says he was the victim of racial profiling by five Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office deputies. [Patrick Szabo/Loudoun Now]

11 thoughts on “Loudoun NAACP Presses Sheriff’s Office Reforms After Alleged Racial Profiling Incident

  • 2020-07-24 at 2:10 pm
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    Convenient timing from the left. Quick to judge, let the investigation to the complaint play out. Innocent unitl proven guilty or of wrongdoing right? Oh not if you are Randall or her cronies, fits her agenda.

  • 2020-07-24 at 3:57 pm
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    the sheriff has not provided any credible explanation about the reason why a routine traffic stop escalated into a five police, canine, handcuff, destruction of property experience. We are left with what is, sadly, a routine stop of a black man. this man is being transparent and sharing his evidence. where’s the police evidence and why is it taking so long to see it???

  • 2020-07-24 at 5:02 pm
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    Is a drug dog indication probable cause legally? I assume a warrant would have to be sought after the dog indicated possible drugs unless due to the transit nature of a vehicle and a lesser expectation of privacy on a public highway there is PC for a warrantless search. These are the questions for the lawyers.

    Why they handcuffed the individual is beyond me unless he had weapons, made threats or was violent. Firing the deputies seems pretty extreme unless this does indeed turn out to be a pre-textual stop and illegal search. I would advocate for in-depth re-education on the US Constitution.

    Finally, the individual has a First Amendment right to use his phone camera in public so the police had better stop harassing people filming them. Don’t do anything that will not play well on social media or TV.

  • 2020-07-24 at 9:23 pm
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    If the Police Dog hits on the car for possible drugs, then the Police have a right to search without a search warrant. Any subject would be placed in handcuffs for both the protection of the Police Officers and the person being detained.

  • 2020-07-24 at 11:36 pm
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    Classic case where more information is needed before forming an opinion,much less going ballistic.

    However, a Latino friend has been pulled several times by Leesburg police for “violations” like windows with too much tint. He and I presume that the police used it as an excuse to check him out for any serious problems. (He didn’t even get a ticket.) I also understand that a policeman’s gut instinct and experience a valuable assets. You can look at this much like the very effective stop-and-frisk laws that NYC used to have.

    No one wants to be scrutinized that way, but I yield to the police.

  • 2020-07-24 at 11:38 pm
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    PS. I also have no problem with the guy getting help from the NAACP and seeking redress.

    These things all seem to sort themselves out anyway, albeit with a few tragic exceptions.

  • 2020-07-25 at 9:48 am
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    You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that you exercise your 5th Amendment protections when being detained by Law Enforcement.

    Add in a dose of the Pastor who took the Devil’s silver, Phyllis and her leftist zeal to steal power away from the People, and this entire story has a certain aroma to it.

  • 2020-07-25 at 10:45 am
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    The dog is obviously racist and should be put on administrative leave and then put through the sensitivity training program LCPS is spending part of the $1.4 billion budget which does not include in-person classes. The article is part of the problem as it did not include the color of the dog or a list of privileges the dog has enjoyed without earning any of them. All dog statues in Loudoun need to be considered for removal. Anyone who doesn’t immediately apologize for any suspicious behavior of their dog is complicit and should be forced to donate to fix the guy’s seat and have their names put on a list. DLM signs can be picked up at the courthouse starting on Tuesday. By the way – is there any evidence the Sheriff Department refused to repair the man’s seat or that this dog has a history of smelling drugs that were never there? 🙂

  • 2020-07-25 at 1:16 pm
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    This has to stop. The brake light was out so he got stopped. He should have been issued a warning or a ticket. There was no probable cause to search the vehicle. The oldest profiling trick in the book is for the cop to “claim” they smelled pot while talking to the driver about their brake light in order to actually obtain probable cause for the search.
    Next in the profiling process, they bring in a five cops and a drug sniffing dog and give the signal to the dog to alert on the car???? Then they find nothing!!!
    They’ve literally torn apart the car in this case and don’t even give him a ticket. If it was the son a white Ashburn surbabanite, there would be hell to pay. This is another example of Existing While Black. Thank God people are standing up for justice and these instances are coming in to the light. And by the way…it isn’t illegal to record the police!!!! Why did they make him turn his camera off? Virginia law allows you to record the police if (1) if it is in public, and (2) the person doing the recording does not interfere with the police.
    Those officers need reprimands and training.

    • 2020-07-27 at 4:25 pm
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      Ok “Tool”. You obviously don’t know what your talking about. Obviously the K9 was alerted to possible narcotics, and dogs don’t discriminate. The presence of five deputies was probably to make sure this, originally justifiable traffic stop, would be conducted according to training and the law. And no, you can work your phone while being detained for possible narcotics possession. It sucks getting pulled over, but you be polite and respectful, and if your innocent you might just walk away with a warning. A hard lesson to learn just to make sure your brake lights work.

  • 2020-07-25 at 1:31 pm
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    I’m a big supporter of the LCSO but I find some aspects of this encounter somewhat troubling. However, we need to wait for all the facts to come out. Right now we don’t know very much.

    There is a recording even though the suspect was told he couldn’t record? It is well established that you have the right to record police in public. And cops should know that. Of course, it is more difficult to record if you are cuffed.

    The suspect was quite argumentative and should have learned to simply keep his mouth closed. You aren’t going to argue your way out of a ticket. But you can argue your way into more trouble. I personally have walked close to the line during a stop during a period where cops stopped me repeatedly over nothing. And I am not a young black man. It does get frustrating to meet a cop with attitude when you have done nothing wrong and the traffic stop creates more danger for me, the cop and other motorists than any reason I might have been stopped.

    A dog indicating is sufficient cause to search. No further warrant is required. Cuffing a suspect is common to maintain control over the suspect. Often a suspect will be required to remain seated during the search. It might be difficult to understand but it is done for the protection of the suspect and the officers. A cuffed suspect is far less of a potential threat to himself and officers.

    I think there ought to be an investigation, especially if no drugs or illegal substances were found during the search. It is common knowledge that dogs can be made to indicate by the handler. The question is whether anyone will be satisfied with an “internal investigation.” But all body cam footage should be released immediately.

    The LCSO needs to get in front of this and be completely transparent. If the man was unreasonably detained and searched then we need to know once all the facts are out. In the meantime, LCSO needs to make sure officers are trained in citizens rights to record, and how to conduct stops and searches protecting the rights of the people they stop.

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