Man claims ‘illegal’ traffic stop in Loudoun Co. is result of racial profiling

A Loudoun County sheriff's cruiser is seen here in Sterling, Virginia, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)(AP/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

A Black man from Leesburg, Virginia, claims he was subject to an illegal traffic stop on Thursday in Loudoun County.

He’s now calling for answers and accountability from the sheriff’s office involved.

On Thursday, Kaheem Arkim Smith, 46, says he was pulled over on Route 7 by several Loudoun County deputies for a broken taillight.

“There’s nothing in my car. I don’t use drugs,” Smith can be heard saying in a video he recorded of the stop.

Smith said he was detained in cuffs after being told by officers that a drug-sniffing dog got a hit on the vehicle. No drugs were found in the car.

“This is a routine traffic stop. Why are you putting a K-9 around my car,” Smith said in an interview. “I don’t use drugs; I don’t sell drugs. I don’t be around anyone that sells drugs or uses drugs.”

Smith, an accountant from Leesburg, believes he was racially profiled, and he’s filed a complaint with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

“I want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any other young Black men, Hispanic, any ethnic group,” Smith said.

The sheriff’s office says the stop was conducted as part of an ongoing investigation and that the complaint will be investigated to the fullest extent.

“I have two young Black children, and when they grow up, I don’t want them to have to go through this,” Smith said.

Pastor Michelle C. Thomas, president of the Loudoun branch of the NAACP, responded to the incident in an interview with WTOP, saying the officers need to apologize to Smith and pay to fix his car.

“They trashed his car, they took it apart, they took his seat out, the back seat came completely out,” Thomas said.

She said that the officers also took the lining out of his trunk to look for drugs.

“He should not pay an expense to be racially profiled in this town,” Thomas said. “They made a mistake, they chose the wrong person to profile, and they have to be held accountable.”

In a statement posted online, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said that “all complaints filed with the agency are investigated to the fullest extent, and all disciplinary measures are vetted outside of the LCSO” by the Loudoun County Government Human Resources Department and the County Attorney’s Office.

Thomas says that she was glad that the incident hadn’t escalated further.

“It was absolutely inappropriate, and if Mr. Arkim at any time had allowed this situation to get the best of him we probably would be experiencing a similar George Floyd incident because those police officers were ready, they were on the ready,” Thomas said.

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk contributed to this report.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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