From 1988 through 1990, Eagle County, Colorado, sheriff’s deputies stopped 402 black and Latino drivers and passengers on suspicion of drug smuggling. Many of the motorists alleged they were coerced into consenting to searches, although none was ever arrested or ticketed for any drug offense.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action suit on behalf of the motorists, claiming that their civil rights had been violated.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said almost no whites were stopped during the same time period. In 1996, the county agreed to pay one of the largest settlements ever in a racial profiling case.
Plaintiffs were awarded $800,000, and a federal judge ordered the sheriff’s department to end its practice of using “racist” pretexts to stop drivers.
The profiling case has ignited concerns among some about whether Kobe Bryant, a black athlete charged in Eagle with rape, can get a fair trial in the overwhelmingly white county, according to the Los Angeles Times.