A 66-year-old man who was out on a morning walk in July of this year says a San Diego Police Department officer arrested him because he is black.
Raymond Wiley, 66, filed a claim, typically a precursor to a lawsuit, against the City of San Diego on August 4, accusing the officer of racially profiling him.
Wiley went for a walk in his Encanto neighborhood at 6:30 a.m. on July 21. During his morning walks, Wiley carried a large walking stick to prevent a run-in with stray dogs he had encountered on previous walks.
A police officer pulled up. The officer, believing Wiley was prowling cars in the neighborhood, immediately arrested him. The officer searched him and found a single car key in his pocket. The key, said the officer, appeared to be a shaved key, which are used in car burglaries. The officer also believed Wiley's walking stick was used as a "leaded cane" to break car windows.
The officer arrested Wiley on felony charges of carrying a "leaded cane" and possessing burglary tools. He was taken downtown. His bail was set at $20,000.
Wiley's complaint (obtained by the Reader through a public records request) says video footage of the encounter will show that the officer "embellished" the truth in order to justify the stop.
Reads the claim, "body worn camera evidence will show that the officer in this case completely fabricated the fact that he had any reason to believe that Claimant was casing cars as he has later claimed. Further, with little effort, the officer could have checked to see if the key in Claimant's pocket worked on the car ignition and lock as Claimant represented, but deliberately did not do so in order to effectuate the unlawful arrest of Claimant on felony charges."
Wiley's attorney, Marlea Dell'Anno, a former deputy city attorney for the City of San Diego, says residents have complained about the officer before.
In fact, new data released by the San Diego Police Department and reported by the Voice of San Diego shows San Diego police officers, on average, stop more hispanics and African Americans than they do white people.
During a two-week pilot program, records show that cops stop minorities 51 percent of the time.
"[Wiley] is informed and believes that leadership in the San Diego Police Department in concert with select leadership within the City Attorney's Office teaches, encourages and supports officers to embellish and spin facts in order to fabricate a legal defense to their illegal conduct," reads the claim.
If the city denies the claim, Wiley is then allowed to file a lawsuit.