Judge rules in favor of Ky. teen handcuffed during traffic stop

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (TBEN) — A federal judge has ruled that a Louisville police officer violated the constitutional rights of a black teen during a traffic stop in 2018 when the teen was handcuffed and searched for weapons.

The teen, Tae-Ahn Lea, was detained by former Louisville detective Kevin Crawford for allegedly making a wide right turn. Lea, who was 18 at the time, filed a federal lawsuit over the traffic stop.

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U.S. District Court Judge Greg Stivers wrote in a preliminary injunction on Thursday that Crawford violated Lea’s right to unreasonable search and seizure.

Crawford, who is white, had believed Lea looked nervous and lied about a gun in the car, according to Stivers’ statement. The “weapon” was a miniature souvenir Louisville Slugger bat tucked between the front car seat and the console.

“Crawford’s consideration of the miniature bat was not sufficient to establish a reasonable suspicion that Lea was armed and dangerous, and nervousness is not a reliable indicator of criminal activity,” Stivers wrote.

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Crawford knocked Lea down and handcuffed the teen before a K9 dog was called in to search the vehicle. Lea was eventually released and given a citation.

Stivers ruled in Lea’s favor in summary judgment, meaning a jury will decide how much damages will be awarded to Lea. Crawford is no longer with the Louisville Police Department.

Stivers also dismissed Lea’s claims against the former Louisville police chief and three other officers.

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