Police officers who violated a Black couple in Aiken, South Carolina could face federal charges. The FBI has decided to review the case involving Elijah Pontoon and Lakeya Hicks.
According to Aiken Standard, the incident occurred in 2014 when officers Chris Medlin and Clark Smith stopped Lakeya Hicks, who was driving with a paper tag. Hicks had recently purchased the car and hadn’t yet gotten an official license plate.
When the police officers pulled Hicks over, they made Pontoon get out of the vehicle. They believed that Pontoon had drugs and decided to search the vehicle without a warrant. After they didn’t find drugs in the car, Officer Medlin made Pontoon remove his pants and began to search his anus with his fingers. Merlin said that he felt something hard, but Pontoon told him that it was a hemorrhoid. Merlin never found any drugs and used a racial slur to address Pontoon by saying, “You gonna pay for this one boy.” Hicks was also searched and her breasts were exposed during the process.
Aiken’s Chief Charles Barranco believed the officers were conducting an appropriate search although Public Safety found that Medlin did not abide by the agency’s strip search policy. Medlin also never filed an incident report and only received remedial training as punishment for the illegal act.
The FBI’s civil rights division has started an investigation against the officers this week. It’s one step to bring attention to police who harass and intimidate citizens across the nation. Medlin’s action should have resulted in criminal charges from the local and state level. He sexually abused Pontoon and also performed the search without a warrant. The harassment that was allowed to take place is appalling and the FBI’s review should help to right that wrong.
Hicks and Pontoon have also filed a lawsuit against the officers and the city.