Costa Mesa police launch investigation into alleged racial profiling during a traffic stop
The Costa Mesa police department has launched an investigation after a 22-year-old man from San Diego alleged an officer used racially-charged language during a traffic stop last week.
The driver Abdullahi Aden, who is Black, said he was pulled over for having tinted windows near South Coast Plaza. Aden didn't have his license with him so he gave the officer his license number. The 22-year-old said the officer wanted to search his car which he refused.
A passenger in Aden's car taped the interaction and posted it on TikTok. During the stop, Aden mentioned that he went to the "No. 1 public university." The officer replied "What? Prison?"
"The first thing that came to his head when I, as a Black man, told him I'm educated, the first thing that came to his head was a prison," said Aden.
Over the weekend, Police Chief Ron Lawrence said the department's Professional Standards Bureau launched an internal investigation into the traffic stop.
"We understand the concern regarding the officer's dialogue during the traffic stop," the department said in a statement. "We are committed to protecting and serving our community fairly and with empathy."
Criminal attorney Steve Meister said that a police officer does have the right to search a car if the driver doesn't have his license with him as long as the traffic stop was legitimate. Meister found fault with how the driver and officer treated each other.
"Ultimately, the cop should have been the bigger person," he said. "Should not have said anything antagonistic. Should not have said anything sarcastic or anything like that to the kid and just done his job."
Aden said a Costa Mesa police sergeant called him on Sunday.
"I let the sergeant know that the officer just keep trying to assert his dominance over me and viewed me as a criminal," said Aden. "It seemed as if I was being forced to prove my innocence to him."
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