OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The City of Omaha will be paying more than $40,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit against an Omaha police officer.
The lawsuit stems from a traffic stop that occurred last June on Interstate 80.
Meshelle Settles and Elijah Kamara from Dubuque County, Iowa, say they were driving a rental car on the interstate when they were pulled over by Omaha Police Officer Jeffrey Vaughn.
In their complaint, the mother and son say they believe Vaughn picked out their vehicle to pull over because they are Black.
Vaughn says he was not able to tell the race of either Settles or Kamara when he made the stop.
As the stop continued, Settles was asked to step out of the vehicle. Kamara says he was looking back at his mother to make sure she was okay when Vaugh asked him to step out of the vehicle.
Kamara says he instead placed both his hands on the dashboard to show he was not a threat. He says in response Vaughn pulled his gun out and continued to point it at Kamara for five to ten minutes.
Kamara also says during this time he feared for his life and his mother says she was afraid for her son.
Vaughn, however, says Kamara was trying to get out of the vehicle and continued to ignore his instructions to stay inside. He says he feared for his safety, so drew his gun and called for backup.
The mother and son also say Vaughn illegally searched their vehicle during the stop, but Vaughn says the vehicle was not searched at all.
Settles also is accusing Vaughn of incorrectly reporting her race as white in the system. They say this could have been to defeat the department’s ability to determine whether or not he targets motorists based on race.
This accusation is not specifically rebutted in Vaughn’s response to the complaint, but he does deny all accusations.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Omaha City Council unanimously voted to pay Settles and Kamara $42,5000 to settle the lawsuit.