Shaw University files complaint over traffic stop in Spartanburg County

A historically black college in North Carolina is calling on the Justice Department to investigate a traffic stop that happened in October
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 9:03 PM EST
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SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (FOX Carolina). - Shaw University announced during a press conference on Monday, November 21, that the school filed an official complaint with the United States Department of Justice to ask for them to investigate an October traffic stop involving the Spartanburg and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Offices.

Shaw University Officials said the complaint is to “request for an investigation into Title VI and Civil Rights Violations committed by the Spartanburg County and the Cherokee County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Offices.”

During the press conference, Shaw University President Dr. Paulette Dillard said “there is real harm done when individual rights are overlooked, ignored or denied – and when it becomes commonplace to violate the civil liberties of innocent Americans traveling on an Interstate highway. The harmful effects of eroding individual rights under the pretext of law and order are real – and they are rampant all over the country.”

According to officials, the filing is in response to an October 5 traffic stop of a Shaw University-chartered bus carrying a group of 18 students to Atlanta, Georgia, for a financial leadership conference. During the traffic stop, deputies searched the bus with K-9 officers and nothing illegal was found, according to Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright.

Following the traffic stop, Paulette Dillard released a statement saying she was “outraged” about the incident.

In response to Dillard’s statement, the Spartanburg and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Offices held a press conference in late October, addressed the situation and shared the body camera footage from the traffic stop. “This case had nothing to do with racism,” Wright said during the press conference. He added that the search was part of Operation Rolling Thunder, a weeklong effort to remove drugs and other items off Spartanburg County highways.

Sheriff Wright says that President Dillard initially never reached out to his office with her concerns. Sheriff Wright said he reached out to the president three times and offered her an opportunity to review the footage.

Following the announcement on Monday, Shaw University shared the official letter sent to the Department of Justice. Officials said the letter highlights their three main concerns.

• Search and Seizure Under the Pretext of an Alleged Lane Violation

• Violation of the Passengers’ Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

• Operation Rolling Thunder

Read the full letter here: