The city of Louisville has agreed to pay a Black family $75,000 after they were wrongly stopped by the city’s police force in 2018, but the payout comes with stipulations. The Lousiville Courier-Journal reported Anthony Parker and Demetria Firman were told the money would come if both parties and their legal teams agreed to not speak badly about police or the government in publishing. This includes media statements and social media.
“The city is paying to silence its critics,” said Courier-Journal lawyer Michael Abate. “It is paying them off. And it seems designed to impede reform. It is bad policy and really troubling.”
According to the outlet, the couple was instructed to not “make or direct anyone to make any statements, written or verbal with the intention to defame, disparage or in any way criticize the personal or business reputation, practices or conduct of Metro Government.”
First Assistant County Attorney Ingrid Geiser issued a statement claiming the couple has full permission to speak about the incident from which the lawsuit stems. She claimed Parker and Firman—who were stopped with Parker’s 10-year-old son present—”are not prohibited from talking truthfully about what happened during their traffic stop,” however, added language used by the couple “should have more accurately reflected the agreement of the parties.”
The federal lawsuit issued in August 2019 comes after a non-routine traffic stop in August 2018. Ninth Mobile Division Detective Kevin Crawford pulled the couple and over as they drove home from church, with allegations the driver made a turn without signaling. This claim was proved false by the body camera footage which shows police officers searching the adults and the vehicle for drugs and weapons.
“This is how we conduct all our stops. We’re a different kind of unit that works a little different than traditional,” said Josh Doerr, one of the officers mentioned in the lawsuit. Crawford continued to encourage Parker to be truthful, implying there were drugs present.
In their lawsuit, they claim the traffic stop was only ended when officers became aware that Firman and Parker were close with one of the policeman’s colleagues.
After the traffic stop, Doerr was suspended one day for violating pat-down procedures. None of the other officers involved were reprimanded for any violations of policy.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Sam Aguiar, Lonita Baker, and Josephine Buckner, and claims the real reason their clients were stopped was “because they are Black, were in a nice car and were in a designated target neighborhood of LMPD.”
Aguiar and Baker were also the lawyers for the family of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by law enforcement in Louisville during a botched execution of a search warrant. The city of Lousiville settled with Taylor’s family for $12 million.
If Firman and Parker or their legal team violate the terms outlined, it would be considered a “material breach” of the settlement, and the Metro Government and the individuals cited would be “irreparably harmed.” The suit against the city is still pending.
View the police officer’s body camera footage below.