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Michigan to pay $40,000 to woman police ticketed for having HIV

By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

The city of Dearborn has agreed to pay $40,000 to a Detroit woman who was ticketed by a police officer because she had HIV.

Shalandra Jones of Detroit had sued the city of Dearborn in January 2014 after police Officer David Lacey berated her for not telling him earlier in a traffic stop that she had HIV. He expressed concern about contracting a disease, according to a video of the traffic stop in 2012 in the western part of Dearborn.

People with HIV are not required to tell police they have it. Jones told the officer she had HIV after he asked her about medication in her car that she uses to treat HIV. He ended up ticketing her on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge; she had a marijuana medical card, but it had expired. The charge was dismissed last year.

“We believe this was an isolated incident with a single officer and not reflective of the behavior of our police department,” said Mary Laundroche, spokeswoman for the city of Dearborn. “Respect for everyone is emphasized in all police department training.”

Lacey said he pulled over Jones and driver Mark Scott because “I just rolled up and saw the brake light out, and I thought, ‘Well, you know, what? I’m kind of bored.’ So, might as well, it’s worth a stop,” according to a video of the traffic stop.

The officer searched the car after smelling marijuana.

After finding out Jones had HIV, Lacey said: “You just made me mad.”

Lacey said he “did not want to take any diseases home to his family.” The officer added that “Dearborn does not have that many people living with HIV, and the police do not like people with HIV.”

Lacey then said to Jones: “Honestly, if it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would have wrote anybody for anything. But that kind of really aggravated me, you know what I mean? You got to tell me right away. … Because at that time, I wasn’t wearing any gloves.”

Lacey then suggested that he had taken action against earlier suspects when they had not disclosed they had diseases.

“So that way we don’t get pissed. Cause otherwise we get pissed. Bad things happen,” he said. “I found a needle on a guy once and he didn’t tell me. … He’s not going to forget anymore.”

Jones’ attorney, Detroit Legal Services President Joshua Moore, said: “I’m glad that Shalandra got some justice. It was a pretty clear cut case with the video. What happened to her was awful. No one should have to go through that.”

He added that “the city of Dearborn was committed to ensuring that a fair settlement was reached.” It was reached Aug. 31.


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