Md. approves settlement in racial profiling suit

WASHINGTON – Maryland has agreed to pay $55,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by an African-American driver alleging that two state police troopers violated his civil rights with racial profiling.

The Baltimore Sun reports the state’s Board of Public Works, which is comprised of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Comptroller Peter Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, ratified the deal reached by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

The decision to settle came after state officials were informed that contesting the case would cost more than the amount of the settlement.

David Martin of Philadelphia was stopped for speeding on Interstate 95 in Cecil County in October 2009. He was searched for drugs, but none were found. During a second search, a loaded, legally registered handgun was discovered in his waistband.

The state dropped the case when Martin appeared in court, but after he left the courthouse he was stopped by police near the spot of the first encounter and searched again.

For decades, state troopers have been accused of profiling African-American and Hispanic motorists by subjecting them to more frequent stops and searches on I- 95, a known drug-trafficking corridor.

Attorney Seth Rosenblatt, who represents Martin, says the settlement is “an indication the state police realized their troopers’ conduct was problematic here,” according to the Sun report.

Maryland State Police have maintained that they acted properly.

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