Florida Highway Patrol, ICE, Target Dark-Skinned People, Lawsuit Claims

A 12-year resident of Broward County says that cops picked on him because he is dark-complected and of Trinidadian origin -- and that they went so far as to detain him on bogus fraud charges, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

Bhola Sookram was pulled over by a Florida Highway Patrol officer on August 31, 2007, Broward County Civil Court documents indicate.

Trooper M.T. Washington decided that Sookram's ID was fake and arrested him at Gulfstream Park on charges of "obtaining a driver's license by fraud, perjury, making false arrest, false representation, and possession of an unlawful driver's license."
Thing is, Sookram's driver's license is legit -- and he says cops had no reason to suspect otherwise.

For reasons that are still unclear, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was also called onto the scene, and ICE Agent L. Forgash helped Washington investigate and jail Sookram, court docs claim.

After Sookram's arrest, however, "an employee of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles testified under oath that [Sookram] never engaged in any improper or illegal acts regarding his driver's license."

The FHP and ICE let Sookram go, dismissing all the charges. Sookram says that he tried to explain that his driver's license was correct before his arrest but that officers wouldn't take him seriously. He thinks it's because he has an accent and is from a different country.

Barry Silver, who's representing Sookram, says that law enforcement officers acted irresponsibly in this case. He wants them to pay up for unlawful arrest and for damaging his client's reputation.

"When it became increasingly obvious that they'd made a mistake, they didn't particularly care," he said.

The Pulp is waiting for comment from FHP and ICE.

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Victoria Bekiempis