US District Judge, Paul Grimm, will let a jury decide if two officers violated the rights of a Secret Service agent.
What We Know:
- On July 11, 2015, Secret Service agent Nathaniel Hicks was sitting in his parked car waiting to join a motorcade for Jeh Johnson. Johnson was the Homeland Security Secretary at the time and was traveling from Washington to his home in New Jersey. Hicks was the “lead advance agent”. According to Hicks, he had just gotten off the phone with his supervisor when Ferreyra knocked on his window. Ferreyra had his gun pointed at Hicks. Hicks was detained for around an hour as Ferreyra and Hicks ran his information and badge.
- Soon after Hicks was released, Ferreyra and Phillips pulled him over again for driving while using a cellphone. Using a cellphone while operating a vehicle is not against the law police officers.
- Hicks filed a lawsuit in July of 2016 for the incident and retired from his 20 years of service soon after. Hicks believes that he was detained because he was black and that they violated his 4th amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures.
- Hicks’ lawsuit states, “The totality of the circumstances including the objectively hostile way in which Defendants treated Special Agent Hicks and the lack of any legitimate explanation justifying Defendants’ conduct reveals Defendants discriminatory motives.”
- On June 10, 2019, Judge Grimm decided that Ferreyra and Phillips did not have probable cause to detain Hicks. He also determined that the officers would not be entitled to qualified immunity.Qualified immunity protects police as long as their actions are reasonably within the law. According to Grimm, the “defendants still have not shown why they could not, in less 15mins, ascertain that Secret Service agents indeed are authorized to carry and transport their weapons in their vehicles, when a simple Google search would yield such information.”
- This is not the first interaction between Hicks and Ferreyra. In 2009, Hicks was a responding officer to a fight outside of a Washington bar. Ferreyra had gotten into a fist fight with a cab driver.
- Ferreyra considers the lawsuit a “petty beef” between the Secret Service and the US Park Police. Ferreyra also claimed that he didn’t recognize Hicks when he stopped him. The attorney for Park Police states that Hicks is trying to get “vindication of a bruised ego resulting from quarreling among interagency law enforcement officers”.
A trail date has not been scheduled yet.