When Tennessee police stopped a Black driver and accused him of having too darkly tinted his windows, it ended with the driver handcuffed and thrown in jail.
That driver, Timothy Hamilton, filed suit against the Franklin Police Department in late August accusing officers in the Nashville suburb of using excessive force in the September 2018 incident, according to the lawsuit the Tennessean newspaper obtained.
Hamilton was parked in the parking lot of Green Street Church of God, where he is a member, when officers Nicholas Smith and Tyler Wiggers stopped him to allege his window tint was too dark, Hamilton’s attorney said in the lawsuit.
Officers also alleged that before Hamilton parked in the church he had illegally parked in the street while briefly visiting a family member and made an illegal turn, according to the lawsuit.
The officers then “grabbed [Hamilton] by his arms and jerked him back and forth,” before slamming him on the hood of his vehicle and arresting him, Hamilton’s attorney said in the lawsuit.
Hamilton’s fiancée, Kanesha Vaughn, was detained at the scene while officers waited for a K9 unit to arrive to search Hamilton’s car for drugs, the Tennessean reported.
When the dog arrived, no illegal drugs were found in the vehicle, but officers allegedly seized three cellphones, $1,300 in cash and two sealed packages addressed to Hamilton, which turned out to contain speakers, the Tennessean reported.
Hamilton was charged with improperly passing, resisting a stop, halt and frisk; and stopping, standing or parking outside a business or residential district, but the charges were later dismissed, according to the Tennessean.
The accused man told Fox affiliate WZTV he believes he was the victim of severe racial profiling and that he knows his windows weren’t too dark.
“I work at a luxury car dealership and the people we use, that’s who I used to professionally do my windows,” Hamilton told the news station. “I grew up in this town, and I know that’s what you use to pull people over. I was a Black male in a Black neighborhood, and I was in a nice car.”
The man’s attorney, Richard Brooks, told WZTV, “this is not ‘Gone with the Wind’” and he’s trying to change the attitude of cops.
“All they had to do was tell him he violated traffic law and give him a ticket and go on, but that wasn’t their purpose, their purpose was to pick on a young man in a fancy car,” Brooks said. “They said he can’t have this fancy car and be Black in Franklin unless he’s a drug dealer.”