The Berkeley-educated motorist who defended his rights against the racial stereotyping of a Costa Mesa police officer during a routine traffic stop did everything right, according to a local attorney.
@abdullahifto Costa Mesa Police Sergeant tries to force a search in my car. I guess studying at @UC Berkeley equates to learning in prison! Please assess the mental competence of police!!! #acab #fyp #somali #somalitiktok #berkeleypov #capolice #police ♬ original sound – abdullahifto?
“He did keep his composure throughout the encounter and I’m glad for his sake that the involved officer did not further retaliate when he pointed out to him that making this assumption about prison seems racist under the circumstances,” said attorney Jim DeSimone of V. James DeSimone Law in Marina Del Rey. DeSimone was reacting to a video that went viral on TikTok in which Abdullahi Aden refused to allow a Costa Mesa police officer to search the car he was driving at South Coast Plaza where he had been pulled over.
DeSimone advises his clients to remain calm, comply with commands and ask for a supervisor to arrive at the scene if the traffic stop is or becomes unsafe.
“What is not well known is that police officers, even for traffic infractions, do have the right in California to order someone out of the vehicle,” DeSimone said in an interview.
In Aden’s case, he was driving a car with tinted windows without a license but he did provide the officer with his driver’s license number, according to media reports.
The police officer was captured on video lying when he said law enforcement has a right to search a vehicle if a driver doesn’t have identification.
When Aden refused the search, the officer accused him of being a legal lawyer who studied law in prison.
“Prison? Look at you … racist,” Aden told the police officer. “I went to Berkeley.”
A 2019 California Supreme Court case called People v. Lopez determined that not having identification is no reason to search a driver’s car.
“The driver was well within his rights and any attorney would advise their client not to give consent even if you think you have nothing in your car,” DeSimone told OrangeCountyLawyers.com. “There’s just no reason to give consent to police officers to search a vehicle. They need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to do so.”
Studies show that it is not uncommon for people of color to be racially profiled by law enforcement.
In the hours around midnight, black drivers are stopped twice as much as white drivers, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), and Black and Latino drivers are especially likely to be searched at night but white drivers have a higher rate of discovery of contraband or evidence.
“Police officers are trained to have positive interactions with the public and to treat people with respect and dignity,” DeSimone added. “Accusing someone of being in prison without any reason whatsoever is uncalled for.”
The Costa Mesa Police Department told ABC News that they are aware of the video.
“We understand the concern regarding the officer’s dialogue during the traffic stop,” a spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. “We want to ensure our community that we take these matters seriously. We have received information from members of the public in regards to this incident and our department’s Professional Standards Bureau is conducting a thorough and objective internal investigation into the matter.”
Chief Lawrence’s statement regarding a video shared on social media involving one of our officers. pic.twitter.com/feFsbQJCaq
— Costa Mesa Police (@CostaMesaPD) January 28, 2023
Screenshot of video courtesy abdullahifto
Juliette Fairley covers legal topics for various publications including the Southern California Record, the Epoch Times and Pacer Monitor-News. Prior to discovering she had an ease and facility for law, Juliette lived in Orange County and Los Angeles where she pursued acting in television and film.