Following protests of the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore was placed on curfew and there were reports of protestors being detained by police without facing clear charges. The Guardian reports that Baltimore became the epicenter of riots, destruction, and large-scale protests. Some individuals were held without charge until habeas corpus petitions were filed to the attorney general’s office. Protests spread to cities like New York and Boston this week, with 1,500 gathering in Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota to march in protest against police violence.
Racial profiling, police brutality against African Americans, and the disproportionate number of African American and black individuals who are charged with crimes in the criminal justice system has started an important dialogue about how police deal with civilians.
Now, a report issued by the University of Minnesota entitled, “Detecting Racial Profiling in Minneapolis Traffic Stops: A New Approach” suggests that African Americans may be more subject to traffic stops and may be more likely to face consequences for traffic infractions. The researchers carefully reviewed the data and found that in 2002, there was compelling evidence that racial profiling was taking place in routine traffic stops. While enforcement of traffic laws is essential to prevent car accidents and personal injuries, this disproportionate enforcement can create huge problems, particularly in cities like Minneapolis.
While racial profiling is in violation of police department policy in Minneapolis, researchers found that officers were more likely to stop black drivers. The researchers studied the race of individuals who were stopped by police at a traffic light. At night, when it was difficult for officers to determine the race of the person being stopped, black drivers were stopped 5.5% less when it was dark and 5.5% more often during daylight hours when officers were able to make determination of the race of the driver.
The consequences of this study can be serious when it comes to a range of legal cases. And, the study raises some key legal questions. For instance, are black drivers more likely to be found negligent in a car accident than white drivers?
The determination of negligence can have serious civil consequences for drivers. Drivers who are responsible for an accident may be required to pay medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering damages to victims involved in the car accident. While the rates of black Americans who have been incarcerated is highly documented, the national dialogue hasn’t focused on the civil implications of the imbalance in police scrutiny of minority populations.
Being held negligent in a personal injury case isn’t the same as jail time, but this can have a huge effect on a person’s life. Furthermore, some individuals may lose out on money they may be entitled to if the law determines the wrong person at fault in a car accident.
For these reasons, it is important that victims of car accidents seek a skilled personal injury lawyer to review the details of their case. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino is a firm in Minneapolis, Minnesota that works diligently to protect the rights of victims who have suffered injuries in car accidents.