WASHINGTON (ABC7) — A man who sued a D.C. police officer for what he called an illegal and invasive body search in September 2017 has agreed to settle the federal lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money, according to the ACLU-DC.
The District of Columbia has agreed to pay M.B. Cottingham a settlement to dismiss the case, but does not admit any wrongdoing.
In September, the Metropolitan Police Department said it was beginning the process of firing Officer Sean Lojacono. But the ACLU-DC says the officer remains on the force assigned to administrative duty while he challenges his termination.
The ACLU provided this video of the search:
The lawsuit accuses Lojacono of violating Cottingham’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches.
Cottingham and several friends were sitting on folding chairs near the intersection of Atlantic and First streets, SW, on the evening of Sept. 27, 2017, according to the lawsuit.
They had just opened a bottle of alcohol, in celebration of Cottingham’s birthday, when two cruisers, one marked and one unmarked, pulled up.
The suit says several officers, including Lojacono, “got out of their cars and asked the men if they had any guns. They responded they did not.”
When Lojacono asked what was in his sock, Cottingham pulled out a bag with less than an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, which is a legal amount in the District.
Cottingham says what happened next was frightening and humiliating.
“The officer, instead of frisking him for weapons, just jams his finger and his hand between Mr. Cottingham’s legs,” said ACLU attorney Scott Michelman.
The lawsuit says the officer handcuffed Cottingham with his hands behind his back, and did two more cavity searches.
After not finding any weapons or contraband, Lojacono eventually removed the handcuffs and the officers drove away. No one was cited for an open container of alcohol.
At a June 12 DC Council Hearing, Police Chief Peter Newsham “acknowledged he had seen a video of the encounter,” according to the lawsuit. The chief said the officer had been disciplined but was still on active duty.
WATCH: Richard Reeve reports on the encounter and the lawsuit: