Man Sues Brookline Police, Claiming Racial Discrimination

brookline massachusetts police cruiser

A Boston man has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the town of Brookline, its police department and three of its officers, claiming he was racially profiled and wrongfully searched and arrested.

Chiuba E. Obele, who is Black, said the incidents took place in 2017 at a Brookline condominium where his girlfriend lives, according to the court document filed Thursday.

In the suit, Obele, who is acting as his own attorney, claims that, in October 2017, he was questioned by a white Brookline police officer, patted down and had his backpack searched without consent after he accidentally set off the alarm system in his girlfriend's home.

Nearly a week later, police were called to the home for a tenant who allegedly made threats against Obele and his girlfriend. Obele claims the responding officer, who was white, was disbelieving of the nature of his relationship with his girlfriend. According to Obele, the officer "made a racist joke about young Black men dating older White women," and called him a "gold digger." Obele was 27 at the time and his girlfriend was 73.

"The Brookline Police Department is a department besieged by allegations of racism," according to the suit.

The document also describes a third incident when Obele was arrested and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest and witness intimidation after his girlfriend's tenant alleged Obele attacked him.

In the court filing, Obele claimed his girlfriend's tenant filed a false police report, "to implicate Mr. Obele for a crime he did not commit."

The tenant is also listed as a defendant in the suit.

Brookline Town Administrator Mel Kleckner responded to the accusations in a public statement, saying neither the town nor the police department received a complaint from Obele before he had filed the lawsuit.

"The allegations in his complaint will be taken very seriously, and will be reviewed in accordance with appropriate legal process for all parties who are involved," Kleckner in a statement.

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