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DC police firing officer for improper body search at center of viral video

A cellphone video of the body search shows an officer aggressively and intrusively searching a man.
Credit: WUSA
Officer Sean Lojacono searches M.B. Cottingham on Sept. 27, 2017

WASHINGTON - The DC Metropolitan Police Department is firing a police officer who has been accused of allegedly violating a DC resident's constitutional rights by searching him illegally and touching him inappropriately.

That Officer, Sean Lojacono, has asked for an appeal hearing to try and keep his job.

DC police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck tells WUSA9 that an internal affairs investigation into Officer Lojacono has concluded.

"Officer Lojacono has a pending trial board hearing," Sternbeck wrote in an email to WUSA 9.

Metropolitan Police Department trial boards have been replaced by what's known as an adverse action hearing, which officers request when their employment is being terminated according to Robert Marus, Director of Communications for the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

Marus says Lojacono's adverse action hearing is scheduled for Friday, September 21.

RELATED: ‘He stuck his finger in my crack’ | Lawsuit filed against DC cop claiming man’s rights were violated

Sternbeck also tells WUSA9 that Lojacono has been transferred to the Second Police District in upper Northwest DC and placed on non-contact status during the internal affairs investigation and pending adverse action hearing, which means Lojacono cannot come into contact with the public and his responsibilities are strictly administrative.

As WUSA9 reported in February, cellphone video of Lojacono aggressively and intrusively searching a man near Atlantic and First streets in Southwest collected tens of thousands of views after it was posted to YouTube.

In the video, taken September 27, 2017, the man Lojacono was searching, M.B. Cottingham, can be seen repeatedly protesting the placement of the officer’s hands.

“I’m happy, to be honest,” Cottingham said after learning of the officer’s pending dismissal. “He doesn’t deserve to be on the street.”

RELATED: DC Police: Stopping, frisking innocent people necessary to fight crime

The ACLU District of Columbia sued Lojacono on Cottingham’s behalf. The lawsuit accuses Officer Lojacono of “repeatedly jamming one or more fingers into (his) anal cavity and grabbing his genitalia…without a warrant, probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or consent."

In court filings, Officer Lojacono denied touching Cottingham inappropriately and denied violating his civil rights. Lojacono says he got out of his cruiser after spotting an open container of alcohol, and that Cottingham consented to a search after the officer found a small, legal amount of marijuana in his sock.

Cottingham’s attorney, ACLU DC Legal Co-Director Scott Michelman, says the department’s decision to fire Lojacono bolsters the case on his client was inappropriate and unconstitutional.

“When an officer grabs a person in his most private areas, as part of what should have been a routine frisk, that’s just wrong,” Michelman said. “And I think we can all understand that. And today MPD shows that even MPD, which has tolerated this type of behavior for far too long, understands it as well.”

“It’s a relief,” Cottingham added. “He doesn’t get to do this to anyone else. And that’s the way it should be. You violate, you deal with consequences.”

Lojacono’s attorney, Joseph Gonzalez, has not responded to phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Sean Lojacono response

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