by Chris De Benedetti and Chris Metinko from "Oakland Tribune"
OAKLAND -- A civil rights lawsuit filed by an African-American attorney claims a Castro Valley traffic stop made by Alameda County sheriff's deputies last year was a case of racial profiling.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland this week, claims a deputy pulled Kwixuan Maloof over for dubious reasons, then unlawfully handcuffed and detained him while illegally searching his car.
Maloof is a managing felony attorney in the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, as well as president of the Charles Houston Bar Association -- the largest association of African-American lawyers in Northern California.
Maloof, 42, was driving his 2004 Cadillac XLR on March 5, 2010, when a deputy, who was white, pulled him over on East Castro Valley Boulevard, near Jensen Road. The suit claims the deputy told Maloof he pulled him over because he "heard a loud voice" from the car and that he had committed no traffic violation.
Maloof suspected he was being racially profiled and pulled out his cellphone camera. The filing says the deputy quickly blinded the camera with his flashlight. Other deputies arrived and confiscated Maloof's cellphone. He then was handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car while officers searched the trunk of his car, according to the suit.
Maloof eventually was released, and no charges were filed.
"This incident happened over a year ago and every time I see the police, more specifically the sheriff's department, I get an uneasy feeling," said Maloof.
He said the incident frightened his family and embarrassed him.
"I feel I have to stand up for myself," said Maloof, who has been with the public defender's office for 10 years.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday by Maloof's attorney John Burris, claims Maloof was unlawfully profiled, illegally detained, battered and suffered emotional distress. The suit also says the county has a pattern of "ongoing constitutional violations and unlawful practices constituting racial profiling" that the department's supervisors have done nothing to stop.
A sheriff's office spokesman said Sheriff Gregory Ahern had no comment.
"The sheriff was just recently provided this lawsuit, and he hasn't had a chance to review it, so he can't make a specific comment on the case," Sgt. J.D. Nelson said. "However, he does take great pride that all sheriff's employees do act in accordance with law and that they remain professional during difficult circumstances."
Alameda County Counsel also had no comment on the lawsuit.