Charlottesville Police Facing Lawsuit

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

December 21, 2005

The City of Charlottesville and Police Chief Tim Longo have been named in a federal lawsuit that stems all the way back to 2002 and the serial rapist investigation.

Earlier today, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo was served with a lawsuit that claims his department violated the civil rights of black males all across Charlottesville during the investigation into the serial rapist.

Once again the serial rapist case is at the forefront of legal attention. Neal Walters is one of two attorney's who have filed a federal class action lawsuit against the City and the City Police Chief Tim Longo. The suit alleges the department violated the rights of several hundred black males during the investigation, a time period ranging from January of 2002 to April of 2004. During this time frame, the department took DNA samples from these men who held nothing in common except the color of their skin.

"That violates the federal equal protection rights. To have a policy that discriminates on the basis of race, it has to be narrowly tailored and is subject to strict judicial scrutiny," said Walters.

The suit not only seeks damages, asking for $15,000 a piece for each defendant, but it also asks for a change in policy.

"We know we'd like to see is to have a more intelligent policy of investigating crime. Simply because...a suspect is identified as being African-American or Caucasian, that more thought goes in to the investigatory process than simply saying, 'let's get everybody who's black,'" Walters said.

City Spokesperson Ric Barrick said that the chief will not comment on an on-going legal matter. He added that the department stands by its decision to collect the DNA samples, and that the samples were not taken at random; they were taken from black males with a criminal history.

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