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Lawsuit: Civil Rights Lawyer Feared for His Life as Oakland Officers Held Him at Gunpoint During ‘Potentially Deadly’ Traffic Stop

A California civil rights lawyer best known for fighting for victims of police violence and misconduct has filed a complaint of his own against the city of Oakland, accusing police of holding him at gunpoint and violating his Fourth Amendment rights during a 2017 traffic stop.

Adante Pointer filed the complaint in federal court last Thursday alleging gross misconduct by Oakland Police Department officers, according to The Mercury News. Pointer, an attorney with the Law Offices of John L. Burris, claims he was the victim in a harrowing encounter in which police held him at gunpoint while yelling “profanities and conflicting commands.”

Adante Pointer

Adante Pointer is suing for unspecified damages after he says he was held at gunpoint by Oakland police officers. (Photo: Law Offices of John L. Burris)

The incident unfolded on the night of Dec. 26, 2017, when Pointer says he was pulled over by Oakland officers just after 7 p.m. The suit argues that Pointer “wasn’t committing any crime or infraction” when he was stopped.

The respected lawyer, who has led several high-profile cases over deadly police shootings, recalled the moment he spotted the “yet to be identified” officers in his rearview and sideview mirrors pointing their weapons at his car. He says the cops gave conflicting demands as they shouted at him to “put your f—–g hands up now” and “don’t f—–g move” while also ordering him out of his vehicle.

“Bewildered by why the officers had decided [to] pull him over, point their guns at him and threaten him with death, [Pointer’s] mind flashed through many scenarios where he’d seen of police unloading their guns into drivers who made subtle movements,” his lawyers wrote, adding, “He was petrified and feared that he, like many African-American men before him, would not survive this dangerous encounter.”

After de-escalating what he described as a “potentially deadly encounter,” Pointer found himself handcuffed in the back of a squad car while officers looked through his passenger compartment and car trunk — a search he argues was unlawful.

He was eventually let go after the search didn’t turn up anything illegal, the lawsuit states. Pointer says the officers, none of whom are named in the case, later explained that his car matched the description of the vehicle of someone who had brandished an AK-47-style rifle earlier in the day.

Pointer would file a complaint with the department following the incident, sparking an internal affairs investigation. His complaint notes that while Oakland PD determined the officers had “unlawfully searched Mr. Pointer’s trunk (and) failed to accurately report the incident in their police reports,” they never faced any discipline in the incident.

Pointer is now seeking unspecified damages and is asking that a judge require the department to better train officers on how to handle “high risk traffic stops.”

Atlanta Black Star has reached out to the Oakland Police Department for comment and is awaiting a response.

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