She did the impossible — won without video footage.
In April of 2012, police were called to Lakitha Wright‘s home because of a dispute between relatives. Wright claims Louisiana sheriff’s deputies pushed her over the porch railings, threw her to the ground and peppersprayed her—all while she was eight months pregnant. Wright and several other relatives were arrested, but all charges were dropped against Wright. However, she fought back in court and after more than six years, a judge ruled in her favor.
District Court Judge Curtis Sigur said he believed the force used against Wright was “unnecessary and excessive,” according to the Associated Press. The one officer who testified denied using excessive force and racial slurs, but the judge wrote in his ruling, “It is unbelievable that this pregnant woman would be thrown to the ground in such a manner although she did not resist her arrest.” There was cellphone footage of the arrest, but Wright said the cops confiscated her phone and deleted the video. To that, the judge wrote, “Perhaps, this recording would have helped in deciding this matter.”
Wright was awarded $26,000 for “emotional distress.” This is not the first time the police department has had to pay settlements. The Associated Press also reports that lawsuits “have resulted in more than $2.8 million in payments to plaintiffs in 29 cases” and “the payments, mostly from settlements, range from a high of $600,000 to a low of $5,525.”
Congrats to Wright for fighting back. Black, pregnant woman are not often treated well in the court system. For example, on May 5, News One reported on the case of Siwatu-Salama Ra. She is a pregnant Black woman who is in jail for defending herself with an unloaded gun. Ra is serving two years, but fighting back as well with appeal. We hope she is as successful as Wright.