Rashad James, a lawyer from Maryland, has filed a complaint against the Harford County Sheriff’s Office claiming that officers detained him due to the color of his skin.
According to the complaint, James said that he was detained by a Harford County Sheriff’s Office deputy during a court hearing on Wednesday, March 6, after he was mistaken for a suspect, according to The Baltimore Sun.
James, a staff attorney for Maryland Legal Aid’s community lawyering initiative, says that the deputy mistook him for his client, believing that James was actually the defendant pretending to be a lawyer.
The firm representing James, Brown Goldstein Levy, called the incident “lawyering while black.”
Maryland Legal Aid, the firm that James works for, said in a statement that they were “troubled by the deeply disturbing incident,” which they characterized as an instance of “lawyering while black”, according to the New York Post.
In a statement, Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told WBAL-TV that the Sherrif’s Office is aware of the accusations and is currently investigating the claims.
“The Harford County Sheriff’s Office is aware of these accusations, as we received a formal complaint this afternoon. As with all complaints, the complaint filed on behalf of Mr. James was promptly assigned to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office – Office of Professional Standards for a complete and thorough investigation. We take all complaints seriously.”
In an effort to avoid finding himself in this situation in the future, James has said he will now carry his business cards around with him.
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