Delaware State University to take legal action after 'constitutionally dubious' bus search

"Instantly for me it was like, this is just because we're Black," said Jahnai Elder, a freshman on the team.
DOVER, Delaware (WPVI) -- Delaware State University announced Friday it will be taking legal action against the sheriff's department in Liberty County, Georgia, calling a search following a traffic stop last month involving the university's women's lacrosse team "constitutionally dubious."

Law enforcement bodycam footage from April 20 shows sheriff's deputies in Georgia board a bus carrying the Delaware State University women's lacrosse team.

The sheriff's office says it pulled over the bus for riding in the left lane. That minor traffic infraction turned into a drug search.

"Instantly for me it was like, this is just because we're Black. Any other team that didn't look like us or didn't have as many Black people on the team, they wouldn't have asked that and just let them go," said Jahnai Elder, a freshman on the team.

SEE ALSO: Delaware State Univ. president says traffic stop bodycam footage contradicts sheriff's statement

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"Sheriff Bowman insists that personal items were not searched; the video clearly shows officers searching toiletries and clothes, and even cutting open a family graduation gift," said Delaware State University President Tony Allen in a statement.

DSU is an HBCU, a historically Black college and university.

The video shows deputies searching through the player's personal property, including toiletries, clothes, and even a family graduation gift. The deputies found nothing illegal in the bags.

"We were all just having to stay composed because we don't want it to escalate to anything worse than what it already was," said Gwenna Gentle, a junior on the team.

After reviewing the incident, the university says it is now taking legal action.

"Today I am announcing the university's intention to file a formal complaint with the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice," said Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University.

SEE ALSO: Ga. officials say DSU traffic stop was legal after team alleges racial profiling

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Authorities in Georgia responded to allegations of racial profiling during a traffic stop involving the Delaware State University women's lacrosse team.

Earlier this week, Delaware's attorney general also sent a letter to the Department of Justice saying in part she is "deeply troubled by what occurred" and that she's counting on "a thorough vetting and appropriate action."

"We believe both the stop and the search are a violation of rights, the rights of every passenger on that bus and those of the driver," said Allen.

"I would appreciate an apology from the Liberty County Sheriff's Office because no one should have to go through something like that," said Gentle.

Action News reached out to the Liberty County Sheriff's Office for a response and we have not heard back.
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