On behalf of a Minneapolis resident, the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the Minneapolis Police Department Thursday morning.
Carlotta Madison, the plaintiff in the case, alleges the police department unlawfully detained her after pulling her over in a rental car in February. She seeks $75,000 in damages.
Madison said she believes police harassed her because she protested the imprisonment of her brother, who was targeted in a botched drug raid in 1996.
According to the complaint, police officers accused Madison of driving a stolen vehicle. They pulled her from the car, “roughly pushed her against her car, handcuffed her and searched her car.”
Madison also maintains that officers left her 17-month-old son in her car while the engine was running.
Albert Goins, Madison’s attorney, said the police also violated Carlotta’s rights and had no probable cause to detain her.
“This is a problem that happens repeatedly in the city of Minneapolis,” Goins said.
Madison said she was returning from a Bible study session in North Minneapolis on the evening of Feb. 4. She alleges a police car followed her rental car for more than 12 blocks before pulling her over.
The officers called her a “car thief,” but did not produce any documentation indicating the car had been stolen, according to the complaint.
Madison drove the rental car for more than two weeks because the car she owned had been stolen. She contacted employees of the rental company, who confirmed the car had never been reported stolen.
“It’s our position that this violated her constitutional rights, that it violated her civil rights and her state rights,” Goins said at a press conference Thursday morning.
After the encounter with the police, Madison filed a complaint with the Minneapolis Civilian Review Board, an organization that oversees the actions of the police department.
Penny Parrish, spokeswoman for the police department, said the department is not authorized to comment on pending litigation.
Madison said she believes the police targeted her because of her activism. She attended several rallies and spoke out about how police treated her brother, Andre Madison.
According to the complaint, Carlotta Madison believes the police department framed her brother and accused him of crimes he did not commit.
While Andre Madison was visiting a friend’s apartment in north Minneapolis in July, police raided the building looking for drugs. During the botched campaign, police found no drugs, but fired more than 500 shots, two of which hit Andre Madison in the neck and arm.
Police claim he threatened them with a shotgun, an assertion Andre Madison disputes. He is serving a 36-month sentence for assaulting a police officer.
“I am on a campaign to make the public aware of all these injustices,” Carlotta Madison said.
In January, the University’s Progressive Student Organization joined more than 200 protesters to denounce police brutality. Andre Madison’s predicament fueled their discontent.
“Their actions were really unjust and unfair. There was no real action taken against the police,” said General College freshman Jon Collins.
August Nimtz Jr., professor of political science, also attended the rally. He said he applauds Carlotta Madison and her attorneys for their efforts.
“Police are intimidating individuals who speak out against brutality,” Nimtz said. He said this sends a chilling signal to activists.
The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is organizing a task force to address this issue.
Hennepin County records indicate Madison has no outstanding warrants. However, she has been charged with misdemeanors including possession of marijuana and aiding and abetting theft.