The prosecutor never investigates the underlying facts of the settlement agreement, and the SLMPD doesn’t have to either,” according to a motion filed in White’s case, “because the victim signed his rights away. The number of incidents exposing patterns of police misconduct could be astronomical, but they are hidden in the release agreements.”
The lead plaintiff in the class-action suit is Lakenia Mahdi, an African-American stay-at-home mother of three children. On January 14, 2016, Mahdi was holding her one-month-old daughter when she used her cellphone to record three white city cops allegedly violating the civil rights of a group of 10- and 12-year-old black boys, the suit states.
To recover Mahdi’s phone, an officer arrested Mahdi and attempted to “snatch” her infant child from her arms. Mahdi “made it clear that she was not resisting arrest, but her child was only one month old,” it states. The officer ignored her pleas and attempted to break her finger to get her phone. The officer then deleted the video at the scene, arrested Mahdi and refused to let her feed her baby. While in jail, Mahdi was denied medical care to relieve the painful engorgement caused by her breastmilk. When she appeared in municipal court on March 1, 2016 without a defense attorney, the prosecutor allegedly escorted her out of the courtroom and told her that she would go to jail if she did not sign the release form, the suit states. She alleges that she did not have time to adequately read or review the documents— they gave her only about two minutes. After she signed the document, the prosecutor said he could recommend reducing the charge to littering on public property.
The municipal judge allegedly did not read the documents in open court nor ask Madhi about the facts surrounding the arrest. And after the proceeding, the prosecutor allegedly told Madhi that if she made the incident public, she could still be charged with felony resisting arrest.