Pro Bono Team Leads Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Massachusetts Police Department


Collaborating with Lawyers for Civil Rights, an Orrick pro bono team today filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a Massachusetts police department for excessive force and racial profiling.

The lawsuit was filed against the Arlington Police Department on behalf of 20-year-old Donovan Johnson, a Black man and grants administrator for Mass General Brigham who was racially profiled, illegally stopped and arrested during a 2021 incident.

Johnson was walking home when police were responding to a call for assistance from a nearby hotel regarding a white suspect known to be involved in a prior theft. Despite APD being in pursuit of a white man, and having no information regarding additional suspects, APD police officers apprehended Mr. Johnson along with the white male suspect. Johnson was held at gunpoint on the ground and physically assaulted before being arrested without cause, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed after the police department conducted an internal investigation that did not lead to corrective action.

“Today’s lawsuit highlights the severe consequences of failing to adequately train police officers in basic law enforcement protocols as well as implicit bias,” said Orrick partner Stephen Hall, who is leading the pro bono effort for Donovan.