A jury has awarded $8.25 million to a black mother and her two daughters who sued a California county after sheriff’s deputies stopped them outside a Starbucks, according to court documents.
A California jury returned its unanimous verdict on March 1, according to a final decision filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California.
On the morning of September 20, 2019, Aasylei Loggervale was driving her two daughters, Aasylei Hardge-Loggervale, then 19, and Aaottae Loggervale, then 17, to their colleges in California, according to the lawsuit.
The two women drove all night from Nevada and stopped at a Starbucks in Castro Valley, California, about 25 miles southeast of San Francisco.
As they were resting in the car and preparing to have coffee, two officers from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office approached the car and told the mother that there had been several auto break-ins in the area recently.
For this reason, one of the deputies asked that the women identify themselves, but Aasylei Loggervale declined because “as a black woman, she feared that the encounter would cause serious physical harm to her and/or her daughters,” according to the lawsuit.
The deputies continued to insist she hand over her driver’s license, while Aasylei Loggervale repeatedly told them she had nothing to do with a stolen car. Eventually, the girls began recording the encounter on their cell phones.
The lawsuit states that when Aasylei Hardge-Loggervale got out of her car to use the restroom at a Starbucks, the officer told her the three were to be taken into custody.
The lawsuit says officers handcuffed the mother and daughters and “forced” them into squad cars. They then searched the family’s car and belongings, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says the mother and her daughters were detained for several minutes, although “there is no reasonable cause for them to have been detained.” They were later released without being subpoenaed or charged.
The lawsuit says the three suffered injuries to their wrists and arms and physical pain, along with “emotional distress, fear (and) embarrassment.”
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and an attorney representing the county did not respond to McClatchy News requests for comment.
The trial, held in San Francisco, lasted five days and the jury deliberated more than 16 hours before deciding to award the mother and daughters’ sums, according to her attorney Craig Peters.
Peters told the McClatchy News that the most important part of the verdict for the family, who declined to be interviewed, was acknowledgment by others that their rights were being violated.