Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Coach’s Racial-Profiling Complaint
The Supreme Court refused to revive claims by a women’s college basketball coach that Texas police arrested her and two others solely because they are Black.
The court’s action, taken without comment earlier this month, rejected arguments from Hampton University coach Patricia Bibbs that Lubbock police engaged in racial profiling when they zeroed in on her, her husband and the team’s assistant coach in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Lower federal courts threw out a $30 million civil rights lawsuit on grounds that the officers had discretion to make the arrests and were immune from suit.
“The reality is the stop was ordered because (Bibbs and then-assistant coach Vanetta Kelso) were the only Blacks the officers saw,” when they responded to a call at the store, lawyers for Bibbs wrote in an unsuccessful attempt to win Supreme Court review.
The case began in 1998 when a customer reported that a Black woman approached her outside a Wal-Mart store, asking about a lost purse. Another Black woman, this one quite well-dressed, then joined the conversation, the shopper said (see Black Issues, Dec. 10, 1998).
Police suspected the two women were con artists. Two hours later, police went to the parking lot and saw Bibbs and Kelso, in town for Hampton’s game against Texas Tech. The women were eventually handcuffed, along with Bibbs’
husband, Ezil, and held for several hours. Police later said security tapes from the store showed the Bibbses and Kelso had no contact with the shopper. The three were released, and the mayor apologized for their treatment.
The Bibbses, Kelso and Hampton University sued in federal court, but the case was thrown out before trial in 1999.
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