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‘I Honestly Just Don’t Want to Get Shot’: Lawsuit claims Arkansas State Trooper unlawfully stopped and searched law student’s U-Haul

‘I Honestly Just Don’t Want to Get Shot’: Lawsuit claims Arkansas State Trooper unlawfully stopped and searched law student’s U-Haul

A University of Arkansas law student is has filed a lawsuit against a Arkansas State Police Trooper. In the lawsuit, the student claims he was handcuffed and detained for over an hour in the back of a patrol car last summer while officers searched his U-Haul. The suit says there were no valid legal basis for the stop. Marion Humphrey Jr., 32, is being represented by former US Attorney Connor Eldridge. Humphrey Jr. believes racial bias is the reason he was stopped and police searched his truck according to CBS 5.

On August 20, 2020, the student was moving his belongings from Fayetteville to his hometown of Little Rock when State Trooper Steven Payton stopped him. Humphrey Jr. was attending law school at the University of Arkansas when his class schedule was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, he decided to move back to his hometown.

During the traffic stop, dashcam footage shows Payton explaining why he stopped Humphrey Jr. Payton says he saw Humphrey Jr. “nearly wreck” the U-Haul going off Exit 70 on I-40. Humphrey Jr. denies the claims he almost wrecked the U-Haul truck.

Humphrey told Payton he was nervous, saying, “I honestly just don’t want to get shot. It happens, and I know it happens.”

The law student called his father and kept him on speaker phone to listen during the stop. Payton alleged Humphrey was acting “super nervous,” and when Humphrey asked if the trooper had probable cause to stop him, Payton responded “Yeah, you about wrecked your truck back there. That’s why I stopped you.”

During the stop, Payton allegedly took issue with Humphrey going to law school and belittled him for calling his father, the lawsuit claims. Dashcam footage revealed the trooper saying , “32 years old and going to school still?” while checking Humphrey’s driver’s license. The trooper asked for his cellphone back to speak to his father, Payton got in his face and said “What are you, 16?” Humphrey responded he was 32, and the trooper shot back, “You’re a grown man.”

The trooper pressed Humphrey to give him consent to search the truck asking, “If I bring a dog, is it going to alert to anything?” Humphrey denied he almost lost control of the U-Haul and did not give Payton permission for the search. He later relented and told Payton he could take a look. The trooper then called for a drug-sniffing K-9 from the U.S. Forest Service. After the search dog circled the U-Haul its handler gave Payton the “thumbs up” sign for an alert for narcotics in the truck. Payton handcuffed Humphrey and placed him in the back of his squad car.

“He’s arresting me! Daddy, he’s arresting me,” Humphrey told his father as Payton placed him in custody. Humphrey yelled to his father from the trooper’s back seat, “I don’t want to die tonight.”

Now Humphrey Jr. is suing for emotional and punitive damages claiming Payton’s actions violated his 4th and 14th Amendment Rights. The court date is still pending.

“State police commanders have not seen a copy of the lawsuit and we will not be making public statements about the case while there is pending litigation,” said Bill Sadler, ASP Public Information Officers told the news station in a statement.

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