Woman accuses police of HIV discrimination

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A woman is suing a Dearborn police officer for allegedly discriminating against her and issuing a ticket to the driver of a vehicle she was in after she failed to disclose her HIV status during a routine traffic stop Aug. 3.

Dearborn Police Officer David Lacey pulled over driver Mark Scott and passenger Shalandra Jones on the city’s west end because of a malfunctioning brake light that day. When Lacey stepped up to the car he asked them if they smoked marijuana because he smelled it in their car, according to a 29-minute video showing the traffic stop on the patrol car’s dash cam.

Lacey then searched Jones’ purse bare-handed when he discovered several bottles of medication and questioned her about the pills. She told him “I’m HIV positive.”

The video showed Lacey telling Jones she should have disclosed her status. In another segment of the tape Lacey told Jones if people who are stopped by the police don’t tell police officers about their diseases “we are going to be really mad.”

Michigan law states that individuals with HIV are not obligated to tell police officers their status.

Lacey later issued the driver two tickets, one for Scott driving without a driver’s license and for driving with a faulty brake light.

The video also showed Lacey telling the pair that, “even though I’m still pissed abut the HIV thing, I’m still cutting you guys a break,” Lacey said. “I’m not taking anyone to jail.”

In another segment of the video the officer told Jones if he would not have written her a ticket if she told him her HIV status.

“If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would have wrote anybody for anything,” Lacey said in the video. “But that kind of really aggravated me, you know what I mean? You got to tell me right away, ‘I’ve got this. I’ve got that.’ Cause at that time I wasn’t wearing any gloves.”

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said Lacey is a “young, good officer” and the matter is currently under review.

“We’ve at the very minimum reached out to HIV healthcare professionals and educators to give us advice on how to maybe better train our officers,” Haddad said. “At the conclusion of the review we will take corrective action in the matter as we deem appropriate.”

Haddad said he preferred not to disclose exactly what “corrective action” he will take.

“I’d rather not speculate,” Haddad said. “But certainly we are going to make sure that we hold our police department to the highest standards on the conduct and service we provide our citizens.”

Haddad said Lacey was not available for comments.

According to a published report Jones filled out a written complaint with the Dearborn Police Department; the status of the complaint has not been released.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)