New legal procedures in place to make racial profiling cases easier to prove in court

ANDOVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Adrian Williams is your typical college student.

Navigating remote classes…

Keeping in shape for his college basketball team…

And making music in his downtime.

Adrian: “I dropped a song!”

Juliana: “Did you really?!”

Adrian: “Yeah!”

But he’s never too busy for his family.

Last may he and a friend were heading home to Woburn, after a small family party.

“I was getting off the exit and I realized that there was a police officer following me. We were wondering why are we getting pulled over,” said Adrian.

Adrian was driving his friend’s brand new BMW.

“He comes up to me and says this car is too expensive for you guys to be driving…and we kept saying ‘Why? Because we’re black?'”

Adrian says the trooper pulled him out of the car, then slammed him onto the hood of the cruiser, handcuffed him and asked if he had any guns or drugs in the car. Adrian didn’t.

“During the situation, I was trying not to be scared but it was hard not to be,” said Adrian.

Adrian believes he was the victim of racial profiling.

According to the ACLU, black drivers in parts of Boston are almost 15 times more likely to be stopped and charged with a motor vehicle offense. But proving you’ve been targeted was difficult.

What the court required, was proof the police officer had an established pattern of racial bias. But that information wasn’t available because no one was keeping track.

Defense attorney, Michael Delsignore said, “It’s frustrating because we knew there were legitimate claims of racial profiling and people would come into your office and describe those problems but the law created a barrier for them to get into court.”

In the last 12 years, only one racial profiling case has been successfully prosecuted in Massachusetts.

But a recent court decision…

Could change that.

Justices on the state’s highest court ruled last month you no longer need data to prove you were profiled.

Racial justice advocates say it’s a big win.

Attorney Jessie Rossman from ACLU of Massachusetts said, “There is something that we can do to enforce that law and ensure that peoples’ rights– once we recognize it’s unconstitutional– that if their rights are violated that they can do something about it.”

When pursuing a profiling case, defense attorneys will file a form like this, detailing what happened, no stats needed. District attorneys are now required to investigate.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said,

“We have a lot of power as law enforcement and if we look right now, Juliana, at what we are dealing with in the country…

as far as I’m concerned, yes, we should be held to a higher standard.”

Now people like Adrian can have their voices heard.

“If what happened to you is something that gets heard in court, and the officer is found to have racially profiled you, what do you want to happen?” asked Mazza.

“I would probably just want the officer to just be educated and just to learn. If we start teaching that everybody’s skin is beauty and that everybody deserves to be shown love and cared for then i just feel like the world would change,” said Adrian.

Adrian has filed a complaint with the State Police.

A spokesperson tells me they do log the race of all the people their trooper’s stop – even though it’s not required. We are waiting for them to send us those numbers.

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