Bennington settles police racial profiling lawsuit

BENNINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The town of Bennington and its police department have settled a civil rights lawsuit over claims of systemic racial profiling.

The suit says two former Bennington Police officers discriminated against Shamel Alexander when they searched and arrested him on drug charges in 2013 while he was riding in a taxi.

Bennington had twice asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit and was twice rejected according to the ACLU, which represented Alexander.

The court's decision cited a Vermont study showing that Bennington police stopped Black drivers far out of proportion to their share of the driving population and were five times more likely to search Black drivers than white drivers—while searches of Black drivers were less likely to uncover an arrestable offense. The study showed that racial disparities were not isolated to a few officers, but rather were observable in data for 22 of 24 officers in the Bennington Police Department.

The town has agreed to pay Alexander a $30,000 cash settlement.