Atascadero police accused of racism

A biracial couple from Visalia, a white woman and a black man with a dark completion, filed a lawsuit earlier this month accusing the Atascadero police department of racial profiling and illegal detainer after the couple had a run in with an officer in Oct. 2016.

After a day at the beach with his wife and two children, Kyle Bell pulled into the Atascadero Police department parking lot, a place he considered safe while he smoked a cigarette and stretched his legs. Officer Rochelle Hanson then began questioning the couple because she thought they looked suspicious.

According to the suit, Hanson utilized force to detain Hanson, an Army reservist, while she searched the vehicle and asked his wife is she was OK.

After conducting her investigation, Hanson let the Bell family go on their way.

Bell retained attorney Matthew Owdom and filed a complaint against Atascadero police. In his complaint, Bell asked that the department apologies, have its officers take training regarding racial bias training and release audio and video recordings of the incident. The department refused and Bell filed a lawsuit contending that his detention was based on his and possibly his wife’s race. .

According to the suit, the Aatscadero police department has a history of depriving minorities of their constitutional rights.

According to the suit, Bell is seeking unspecified monetary damages and the appointment of a special auditor to oversee rehabilitation measures within the police department.