Biographies of Plaintiffs in Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches v. Maryland State Police Department

Document Date: April 2, 2008
Affiliate: ACLU of Maryland

John S. Means and Kenneth R. Jeffries
John Means and Kenneth Jeffries are both 43-year-old African American men, and were traveling together when stopped, detained and searched by Maryland State Police. Mr. Means lives in Washington, D.C., is a graduate of Tuskegee University, and works for the National Geospatial Agency. Mr. Jeffries lives with his wife and two kids in Bowie, MD and is employed as a biologist with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

On October 9, 1995, Means and Jeffries were stopped going southbound on 1-95 in Harford County, by Troopers David Hughes and Paul Quill, allegedly for speeding. The troopers decided to detain the men for seeming nervous, failing to make eye contact, have hands that trembled, giving “conflicting statements,” and because of the city they were traveling from. Means and Jeffries were separated and questioned extensively. Means was threatened with arrest if he refused to consent to a search, and which made him feel disrespected. The car was completely search by hand, but no contraband was found. Means and Jeffries were detained for approximately two hours.

Dr. Gary D. Rodwell
Dr. Gary Rodwell is a 53 year-old African-American man who resides in Baltimore, MD. Mr. Rodwell is a Vice-President of the ACLU of Maryland’s Board of Directors. He is faculty in the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program in the Advanced Leadership ad Policy Studies Department at Morgan State University. He is also managing partner of Rodwell Development Group. He is a graduate of Howard University and achieved a doctorate in public administration from the University of Southern California. Mr. Rodwell’s son, who was a Cub Scout when his father was pulled over, is now an incoming freshman at Bowie State University. When his son was much younger and attending Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore, Rodwell twice a month traveled from Philadelphia to Baltimore to attend school with his son.

During one of these trips, on January 17, 1996, Mr. Rodwell was stopped, detained for three hours, and searched twice — once by a drug-detecting dog, and once by hand — by Maryland State Police as he traveled south through Harford County on Interstate 95. These actions were taken because the trooper said Mr. Rodwell looked like a drug dealer. The trooper pressured and argued with Rodwell for about 40 minutes, but Rodwell would not consent to an unjustified search of his car and belongings. Then the trooper called in a canine unit and had the dog scan the vehicle for drugs. Although it was apparent to Mr. Rodwell that the dog did not alert during this scan, the trooper claimed that the dog had alerted, and proceeded to search the car and Rodwell’s personal belongings by hand, with the help of two other troopers. No contraband of any kind was turned up during this extensive search.

Angered by the fruitlessness of his efforts, the lead trooper told Mr. Rodwell he was going to lock him up anyway, causing Mr. Rodwell severe anxiety. Later, however, a tow truck arrived at the scene. The trooper consulted with the tow truck driver and told Rodwell the driver was taking his car to the police barrack. Mr. Rodwell joined the driver in the tow truck, and the driver asked him if he had any money. Rodwell said he did not have much money with him, but that he could obtain some from a bank machine. The driver then took Rodwell to an ATM machine, where he withdrew $80 dollars to pay the driver an alleged towing fee. Only upon his payment of this fee was Mr. Rodwell given back his car and allowed to go on his way.

Verna Bailey
Verna Bailey is a 50-year-old African American woman and lives in Brigantine, New Jersey. She has been an administrative assistant with the Atlantic City Board of Education since 1990. Her daughter is now in college at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

On November 9, 1995, Ms. Bailey was driving with her 5-year-old daughter and was stopped going southbound on I-95 in Cecil County by Trooper David Hughes and two other troopers. The state reason for the initial stop was speeding (75 mph in a 65 mph zone), but Bailey disputes the charge because she had her cruise control set at 65 then sped up because she thought someone (Hughes) was chasing her. Hughes claims his reasons for detaining Bailey and searching her car were nervousness, unusual behavior, inappropriate responses, the city she was coming from, and the fact that the vehicle she was driving belonged to someone else. Hughes questioned her about her departure and destination.

Bailey refused Hughes’s repeated requests that she consent to a search, so he brought a drug dog to search the vehicle. Following the dog search, Hughes directed Bailey to give him her keys and told Bailey and her daughter to sit in the police cruiser. The entire car and Bailey’s pocketbook were then searched by hand, but no contraband was found. Hughes then forced Bailey to take a breathalyzer test, which she passed. Bailey was detained for about an hour and 15 minutes, and the whole experience made her feel very disrespected.

William M. Berry
William Berry is a 38-year-old African American man and lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife and two children. Mr. Berry owns a trucking company, has been a member of the North Carolina National Guard since 1990, and has been deployed in support of the war in Iraq. He has a Bachelors degree in business administration from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC.

Mr. Berry was stopped twice on I-95. The first time, he was stopped in Cecil County by Trooper Mooney, was not searched, and was ticketed for speeding. The second time, on May 2, 1996, Berry was stopped going southbound on 1-95 in Cecil County by Troopers Michael Hughes and John Appleby; no reason was given for the stop. Trooper Hughes decided to detain and search Berry because he could not produce his registration fast enough to suit the trooper. Hughes ordered Berry out of the car and questioned him about whether he was carrying drugs or a weapon. After checking his drivers license, Hughes asked Berry to consent to a search. When Berry hesitated, Hughes said a failure to consent would result in Berry’s arrest for “obstruction ofjustice.” Hughes searched the car by hand, throwing Berry’s things around and leaving them in disarray, but no contraband was found. Berry’s detention lasted about an hour.

Johnston E. Williams
Johnston Williams is a 44-year-old Liberian native who has lived in the United States for more than 20 years and who became a naturalized citizen in 2000. He resides in Upper Darby, PA with his son, and works as a behavioral consultant as an independent contractor with Northwestern Human Services of Delaware County. Mr. Williams is a graduate of Colgate University in upstate New York, with a degree in public administration; he also has a Masters degree in Human Services Administration from Springfield College in Massachusetts.

On August 14, 1997, Mr. Williams and four African passengers were stopped by two Maryland State Troopers as they traveled north through Cecil County on Interstate 95. Althogh Williams was stopped for an alleged speeding violation, one trooper became agitated and profane when he heard Mr. Williams’ foreign accent. He accused Williams and his passengers of being Jamaican, and said that as Jamaicans they must be drug traffickers. Williams and his passengers were ordered out of their vehicle and the troopers thoroughly searched the car and Williams. The men were detained for more than 45 minutes, during which time they were repeatedly cursed at by the agitated trooper, and Williams was made to produce his immigration paperwork. Nonetheless, no drugs or other contraband were found.

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