UCLA reached a settlement on Friday with a prominent African-American judge who accused the university’s police of racially profiling him during a simple traffic stop last year. According to the settlement, the university will hand over a grand total of $500,000 with most of the money going to establish a new scholarship.
Last January, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David S. Cunningham filed a $10-million claim against UCLA for using excessive force and racial profiling during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop.
The judge said that he was “shaken, battered and bruised” by officers in November 2013 in Westwood.
He said that officers began questioning him after a bottle of prescription medication for high blood pressure rolled out of his car’s glove box during his search for his registration and insurance documents.
He said he stepped out of the vehicle to look for the papers in his trunk. That’s when officers handcuffed him.
While he will not be receiving the millions of dollars he original was asking for, Cunningham and his attorney will receive $150,000.
The remaining $350,000 will go toward a new scholarship in the judge’s name and administered by the school’s Black Alumni Association for undergraduate or law students.
It is unclear if only African-American students will be eligible for the scholarship. Cunningham’s attorney said the requirements will have to be discussed with UCLA’s Black Alumni Association.
The university also promises to make strides toward improving diversity on campus and making sure other incidences of racial profiling do not occur.
In a joint statement from Cunningham and UCLA released on Friday, both parties said they “have a mutual desire to use this as an opportunity to deepen understanding, raise the quality of police-community interactions, and provide positive outcomes that enhance diversity and opportunity in our community.”
The statement said that UCLA and Cunningham hope to use the incident as a “teachable moment” for increased “educational opportunities and improved relationships between law enforcement and the public.”
Cunningham’s attorney, Carl E. Douglas, said they agreed not to discuss certain details, but he is pleased with the overall outcome of the settlement.
“I am extremely pleased that there is going to be a community day forum focusing on issues of racial profiling,” Douglas said. “I am extremely pleased that there is going to be retraining of all patrol officers for UCLA. I am extremely pleased that a portion of the settlement is being used for the education of needy students.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time there have been tensions on campus over racial profiling and racist behavior.
In 2012, the UCLA campus was plagued with racist and sexist signs.
The major university has long been criticized for its lack of diversity on campus and overall racial tension. Cunningham and Douglas hope this will be a step in the right direction toward making UCLA a diverse institution where people of all colors can co-exist.