Black mother and her daughters racially profiled and harassed by deputies; judge’s decision changes their lives forever
In the annals of American law, some verdicts have had a seismic impact on the way society views itself. Such was the case with a recent ruling in the United States Court that awarded a Black mother and her two daughters almost $10 million. The three had been harassed and detained by two police officers outside a Starbucks in 2019.
The jury’s unanimous decision on March 1, 2023, to award the three women a staggering $8.25 million, made headlines across the country. Court documents reveal that Aasylei and her daughters, Aasylei Hardge and Aaottae, were pulled over by two deputies with the Sheriff’s Office on September 20, 2019, as they were resting in their vehicle outside the Starbucks.
The deputies claimed that several cars had been broken into in the area, and when one of the officers asked for Aasylei’s identification, she refused. According to the lawsuit, Aasylei cited her fear of violence as a Black person in America as the reason for her refusal. The officer persisted, but Aasylei maintained that she had nothing to do with any car thefts. Her daughters began recording the encounter on their phones.
When Aasylei exited the vehicle to use the bathroom at Starbucks, the officer detained all three women, even though there was no reasonable suspicion to do so. The police handcuffed them, placed them in patrol vehicles, and then searched their belongings and car. The family was held for several minutes before being released without charges or a ticket. The three suffered physical pain, emotional distress, fear, and embarrassment, including abrasions on their wrists and arms.
Craig, the family’s attorney, noted that the outcome might have been different if the women had been white. He said, “If you retell this story, and you make this family into three white women, I think you get a very different result.”
The final judgment held that one of the deputies and the county must pay $2.75 million to Aasylei, while Aasylei Hardge and Aaottae are to receive $2 million each. The other deputy involved in the incident and the county must pay $750,000 to each daughter.
This case is yet another painful reminder of the racial injustice that continues to plague our society. The courage and resilience of the family in seeking justice through the legal system is commendable. Hopefully, this verdict will serve as a deterrent to those who abuse their power and as a beacon of hope for those who continue to fight for racial equality.