Maryland, Police, Department, investigation

Clearwater Police Department Facing Two Lawsuits After Alleged Racial Profiling Arrest

A Clearwater, Florida, Black man has filed two federal lawsuits against the Clearwater Police Department, accusing the agency of racially profiling him.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that three police officers arrested Jacques LaPread in a case of mistaken identity in June 2019. The police officers—Kyle Bingham, Michael Buis, and Henry Giles—had been searching for an individual accused of burglary and credit card fraud when they encountered the professional. 

According to the lawsuits, on the day of LaPread’s arrest, a woman reported a car burglary in which she lost her valuables, including credit cards, gift cards, and IDs. After the theft, activity on two of the stolen credit cards showed a cigarette purchase from a Speedway Gas Station on McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater and an over $200 purchase from a nearby Walgreens.

That same day, LaPread had withdrawn $20 from an ATM at the Speedway Gas Station, where he also made a purchase. He had held the door open for the three officers who had arrived to investigate the crime. However, one of the officers accused LaPread of looking “suspicious” and ran his license plate. The trio subsequently arrested him at his home later that evening. 

Following a five-month investigation, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office opted not to file charges against LaPread, determining that the suspect couldn’t be adequately identified. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bruce Bartlett spoke with the news organization about the situation.

“We were very uncomfortable with the identification of this individual that had been arrested.” 

At the time of the arrest, LaPread, who works in information technology, had been up for a promotion at his cybersecurity job. However, the ordeal jeopardized the opportunity, and he was subsequently denied the lucrative position.

“I’m pretty much starting from scratch again, all because of this,” he shared.

LaPread filed a lawsuit against Clearwater’s then-Police Chief Dan Slaughter after a resolution was not met outside of the court. While the case was initially filed in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Civil Court, it has since been moved to federal court. LaPread also filed a lawsuit in June against the Clearwater Police Department and Bingham, Buis, and Giles.

The arresting officers underwent an internal investigation, which yielded zero punishment. Instead, they received reprimands, according to Clearwater Police spokesperson Rob Shaw. Bingham and Giles remain employed in law enforcement, but Buis left the department for unrelated reasons. Shaw did not provide any further information due to pending litigation.