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A Virginia man is suing Lancaster city, its police chief and a city police officer in federal court, accusing the officer of stopping him for no reason and arresting him for a crime he didn’t commit that landed him in prison for 10 months.

According to the lawsuit, Sha-ki Staten, 26, was walking on Duke Street in Lancaster city on Sept. 2, 2018, when he was stopped by Officer Brandon McCormick.

After conducting a database search on Staten’s identity, McCormick “baselessly accused” Staten of placing a gun underneath a nearby vehicle, the lawsuit states.

Staten was arrested and imprisoned for 10 months, according to the lawsuit. In addition, the suit claims McCormick’s affidavit is riddled with false statements.

On July 9, 2019, a Lancaster County assistant district attorney wrote, “cannot proceed — should not have been charged — insufficient evidence” in a motion filed to drop the charges, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims McCormick knew Staten was not guilty of the crimes he was accused of committing. It accuses the city, police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser and McCormick of making a false arrest, malicious prosecution, violation of due process, failure to train, and unconstitutional training and policies leading to violations of Staten’s Fourth and 14th Amendment rights.

The lawsuit seeks past and future damages, emotional pain and suffering as well as attorney’s fees, among other relief.

Jess King, chief of staff for city Mayor Danene Sorace, said it is long-established city policy not to comment publicly on pending litigation.

Requests seeking comment from Berkihiser and city police public information officer Lt. William Hickey were not returned.

Eva Zelson, an attorney for Staten, said, “We look forward to justice” for their client. She declined further comment.

McCormick was sworn in as a Lancaster city police officer on April 16, 2018, according to a post on the police department’s Facebook page. He worked with the Manor Township Police Department before joining the city force.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


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