Watch CBS News

Lawsuit alleges officers targeted Black residents during search for man who shot McKeesport officer

Lawsuit alleges McKeesport officers targeted Black residents during manhunt
Lawsuit alleges McKeesport officers targeted Black residents during manhunt 02:46

MCKEESPORT, Pa. (KDKA) -- A new lawsuit claims police targeted Black residents during a manhunt for a suspect wanted in the shooting of a McKeesport police officer in 2020. 

The ACLU of Pennsylvania claims the police department, the city of McKeesport and Allegheny County police violated residents' Fourth Amendment rights.

The complaint alleges police officers from the McKeesport Police Department used abusive tactics, including demanding entry into homes at gunpoint without a warrant.

"I'm here to hold them accountable for what they did in our community and at our home," Courtney Tompkins said. 

During a news conference, Tompkins describes the day she says more than a dozen McKeesport police officers forced their way into her home at gunpoint.

She says shortly after McKeesport Police Officer Jerry Athans was shot, more than a dozen police officers with guns drawn stopped her boyfriend, who she says didn't even fit the description of the suspect, outside of their home and demanded to come inside even though they didn't have a warrant.

"I let them in my house, because who wouldn't? You got not just handguns, you have rifles, everything pointed at you," Tompkins said. 

In December 2020, surveillance cameras caught Koby Francis shooting Officer Athans outside the McKeesport police station while in custody for a protection from abuse order. An all-out manhunt ensued for 10 days before Francis was caught by U.S. Marshals in West Virginia.

During the search for Francis, the complaint alleges McKeesport police and Allegheny County police targeted Black residents using illegal abusive tactics while white residents were treated far less harshly.

"This can't go unchecked. We can't act like they didn't just send over 10 police departments into this community for one officer and terrorize Black people specifically. We can't act like that didn't happen and we won't act like that didn't happen," said Fawn Walker Montgomery with the Take Action Advocacy Group. 

Attorneys with the ACLU say their clients, along with the Black community, succumbed to a week of terror in which their constitutional rights were violated when police decided to use excessive force while searching for the suspect. 

"If this wasn't a policy written down, it was at least a practice that the chief, assistant chief and superintendent knew about or should have known about and should have prevented in some way. At minimum, there was improper training," said Solomon Furious Worlds with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. 

The Take Action Advocacy Group is demanding a separate investigation be conducted into the officers' behaviors. KDKA-TV reached out to the police chief and mayor of McKeesport but did not hear back by airtime. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.