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A black man is suing a white Washington, D.C. police officer for groping him and penetrating his anus with his thumb, instead of the body-pat the man had consented to.
M.B. Cottingham, a 39-year-old resident of D.C., filed a lawsuit on Wednesday with the American Civil Liberties Union D.C. chapter against officer Sean Lojacono.
Cottingham claimed he was sitting with his friends on a public sidewalk on September 27, 2017, when Lojacono pulled up along with a few other officers. It is uncertain from the lawsuit if the sidewalk was near Cottingham’s residence.
"We think the race of the participants says about something important about social policies and trends," his attorney Scott Michelman told Oxygen.com. "I think it's notable that the race of the participant is consistent with the type of police violence that we see so much."
“It is not clear from the circumstances what legitimate law enforcement purpose the officers could have had in stopping their cars and confronting this group of African-American men,” the lawsuit read, adding that they did have in possession an open bottle of alcohol, but that could not be seen from where the officers approached.
Cottingham was also in possession of an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, an amount that is legally permissible in the district.
The officers asked the group if they had guns on them.
Cottingham agreed to let Lojacono conduct a pat down, and raised his arms, turned around, and spread his legs for the officer to conduct the search.
The officer instead “grabbed his scrotum, felt around with his hand, and stuck his thumb in Mr. Cottingham’s anus,” according to the lawsuit.
Within a few seconds of this going on, Cottingham and his friends protested.
“He grabbin’ my sh*t!” Cottingham, who according to the lawsuit felt humiliated and uncomfortable, said to his friends. “You fingerin’ my ass, man!”
After repeated requests from him and his friends for the officer to stop, Lojacono put Cottingham in handcuffs.
He then asked Cottingham to spread his legs, an order Cottingham obeyed in order to “avoid escalating the encounter.”
The officer then repeated his actions, this time with Cottingham in handcuffs.
Lojacono later stuck his fingers in his anus a third time, for two seconds.
A part of the incident was captured in a video, referred to in the lawsuit, that was posted on YouTube on September 30 2017. It had more than 122,000 views as of Friday.
The officers did not cite Cottingham and his friends for the open bottle of alcohol, and drove off in a police car saying, “How y’all doing world star?”
The lawsuit further stated that Chief of Police Peter Newsham said Lojacono “had been disciplined but is still on active duty.”
The Public Information office with DCPD declined to comment on the matter, stating they are unable to comment on any pending litigation.
[Photo: Screenshot from video]