Stem named in lawsuit prior to second shooting
On April 2, according to a lawsuit filled by Blasingame Whitley, Attorneys at Law and specifically Robert A Whitley, Attorney of record for Saad Qureshi, officer Stephen Stem was named as a defendant along with Hearne Police Chief Thomas Williams and three other unidentified officers.
“We have requested and been denied the police car surveillance video to identify the other officers,” said Whitley.
On April 4, Whitley sent a litigation hold request along with a freedom of information request concerning a traffic stop conducted by officer Stem. According to that letter, Whitley outlines the stop in detail accusing Stem and the other officers of racial profiling, illegal search, and illegal detention, as the stop was longer than 30 minutes. The letter also included a notice of Qureshi’s intent to file suit for these allegations.
On April 10, Palmos, Russ, McCullough & Russ, attorneys of record for the City of Hearne responded and acknowledge the intent to sue from Whitley. “In response to your Open Records Request, please be advised that the information requested is exempt from public disclosure pursuant to Section 552.103 and 552.108 of the Texas Government Code. Accordingly it is the City’s position that such requested information is not subject to disclosure under your request,” Bryan F. Russ, Jr. replied. April 29, Whitley supplied an additional freedom of information request in hopes to obtain a copy of the City and Police Department’s racial profiling compliance records. At the time of this report Whitley has received no response from the City of Hearne.
On May 12, Whitley filled the lawsuit in Robertson County seeking damages for Qureshi in the sum of no less than $200,000.00 but no more than $1,000,000.00. “It’s not about the money, it’s about a police department that has a long history of illegally and unfairly targeting minorities,” said Whitley. Saab Qureshi is an American by birth and Pakistani by nationality.
Qureshi claims that on the early morning of April 2, he was stopped by officer Stephen Stem for speeding, 42 mph in a 35 mph zone. After standard questioning, Stem then asked if Qureshi had any tickets for anything in the past. Qureshi responded yes to a traffic ticket that had been dismissed a few months prior. According to Qureshi, Stem returned from his patrol car with a different demeanor, asking questions and accusing Qureshi of lying regarding the previous tickets. Stem continues his investigation asking, “do you have any bombs in the car,” and “where are your parents from,”along with “when was the last time you were in Pakastan?”
According to the filled lawsuit, the investigation continued for 30-60 minutes with several officers arriving on the scene to assist officer Stem. Qureshi was released from the scene with a warning.
“I thanked officer Stem at the end of the ordeal and tried to shake his hand. His exact words, “I am not going to shake your hand.” It kinda really hurt my feelings, I felt like trash at that point,” said Qureshi in a letter written to the Robertson County News on April 2 via our Facebook profile page.
“It was and is our intention on behalf of our client Qureshi Saab to see this through. Recent incidents aside, this is a police officer that needed to be removed from duty and a city that needs to better instruct it’s police force,” said Whitley.
Chief Thomas Williams is also named in the lawsuit and is being accused of neglect supervision and training.
Dennis Phillips | Publisher
Robertson County News