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HIV-positive Detroit woman settles lawsuit over Dearborn traffic stop

Sep 22, 2015

Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A Detroit woman has reached a settlement with the city of Dearborn, after her HIV-positive status became an issue during a traffic stop.

Shalandra Jones told Dearborn police officer David Lacey she had HIV after he found her medication during a vehicle search in 2012.

Lacey chastised her for not revealing that immediately.

“I understand that what you have isn’t something that I can get, but … it makes me nervous. I don’t want to take that home to my family,” Lacey said during the stop, which was captured on dashcam video.

“Honestly, if it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would have wrote anybody [up] for anything. But that really aggravated me. You’ve got to tell me right away, I’ve got this, I’ve got that.”

Lacey ticketed Jones for misdemeanor marijuana possession. Jones had a medical marijuana card, but it was expired. The charge was later dismissed.

Jones filed a federal lawsuit claiming that treatment amounted to a violation of her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

People with HIV are not required to disclose their status to police officers, says Jones's attorney Joshua Moore.

The lawsuit not only challenged the officer's "discriminatory intent" when ticketing Jones,  but also presented an opportunity "to really educate the public about the stigma of HIV," Jones said.

The two sides reached a $40,000 settlement in August.

“Respect for everyone is emphasized in all police department training,” Dearborn spokesperson Mary Laundroche said in a statement. “We believe this was an isolated incident with a single officer, and not reflective of the behavior of our police department.”

Laundrouche said the officer was required to attend additional training sessions after the incident, but “was not the subject of any formal disciplinary action.”