A Mobile man has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city, its police chief, and an officer of the Mobile Police Department for a 2013 arrest he claims was unwarranted. Khzemar James, 39, is seeking a jury trial and at least $600,000 in damages after a November 2013 traffic stop led to his arrest for carrying a pistol without a permit.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court Oct. 15 (embedded below), James claimed he was stopped by officer Kevin Kelley at around 9:45 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2013, near the intersection of Kennedy and Adams streets in the Campground neighborhood just west of downtown. James, whom the complaint identifies as a Marine Corps veteran, alleges he presented a valid pistol permit to officer Kelley while also informing the officer of the location of a pistol within his vehicle, but Kelley confiscated both and arrested James for carrying a pistol without a permit.
Two days later, the Mobile County District Attorney’s office issued a motion ordering James released from custody, stating that “insufficient facts exist which will afford a reasonable expectation of conviction” and noting the office would not pursue his prosecution.
In April 2014, James notified the city of his intent to sue, claiming the costs and time of his imprisonment, as well as the publishing of his mugshot in a periodical routinely distributed in many gas stations and convenience stores in Mobile, constituted “physical discomfort, inconvenience, mental suffering, defamation, violations of my civil rights and deprivation of my liberty.”
The complaint filed this week included 11 causes for action against the city, including due process violations, assault and conspiracy. One charge suggests an unknown officer told Kelley to “cover himself on this [arrest].”
A person with more knowledge of the complaint, who asked for anonymity, said upon James’ release, officers insisted he file for a new pistol permit, rather than seek the return of his existing, valid permit. James allegedly declined.
A spokesperson for the police department said its policy is not to comment on pending cases.
According to booking records maintained by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, James was also arrested on a misdemeanor charge in 2000, but the complaint states he has no prior criminal convictions.
The city of Mobile paid a little more than $1.5 million in legal settlements in fiscal years 2013-2014, according to November 2014 story by Lagniappe.
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