Black family awarded $8 million after being detained and handcuffed by police

A California jury awarded a Black mother and her two daughters more than $8 million after local police detained them at a Starbucks. 

The incident happened in September 2019 when Nevada mother Aasylei Loggervale was driving her two daughters to California for college. The trio stopped at a Starbucks in Castro Valley, California, to rest and were approached by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies, according to court documents. Two deputies told the women they were searching for suspects in a recent rash of car thefts and asked for their identification, a lawsuit filed by the Loggervales against Alameda County alleged.

Loggervale refused to show her ID and was then “forcefully” detained and handcuffed, along with her daughters, after stepping out of her car, the suit alleged. Deputies held the women when the mother tried to walk toward the Starbucks to use the restroom, court documents state.

The Loggervales suffered abrasions on their arms and wrists from the incident, according to their suit. Attorneys for the Loggervales argued that the deputes involved in the incident — Steven Holland and Monica Pope, who are both White — stopped their clients because they are Black. The complaint accused the two of assault, battery, false arrest and violation of constitutional rights, among other charges.

The jury last week unanimously ruled against Holland and Pope, calling their conduct “unlawful.” Holland and Alameda County together must pay $2.75 million to the mother and $2 million to each daughter, while Pope and the county must pay $750,000 to each daughter, the final order shows. 

“The community’s trust in my agency is foundational to my mission of maintaining a positive relationship with those we serve,” Alameda County Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez told CBS News in a statement. “The facts of this case are extremely important to me and our community members, however, I must reserve my comments until the case has been fully adjudicated through the court system.”

“Just fishing”

Craig Peters, one of the Loggervales’ attorneys, said his clients received that amount partly because California’s Bane Act allows juries to triple the amount of damages if the case involves a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights. 

“I think they were just fishing, which kind of goes back to racial profiling,” Peters told CBS MoneyWatch of the deputies involved in the incident. “Cops have a lot of power. Sometimes that’s a good thing and, in some cases that we’ve seen all too often recently, it’s a bad thing.”

Body-cam footage of the incident shows Holland asking Loggervale for her ID and the mother then instructing her daughter to start recording the interaction on her phone. Holland then asks Loggervale why her daughter is recording. 

“I got to have protection because I don’t know where this is about to go,” Loggervale said.

The Loggervales were never accused or charged with a crime, the lawsuit states. Their attorneys also said the incident was inappropriate because a police report later indicated that the car thief suspects were men. 

Holland and Pope have been promoted with the sheriff’s office since the incident, Peters said. Meanwhile, the Loggervale sisters are enrolled at UCLA and UNLV and will both graduate this spring, he said.