The civil case against members of the Tenaha Police Department and City Hall will move forward. That's the ruling from the fifth circuit district court, which last week cleared the path for the class action suit. It's been almost three years since members of the police force were accused of stopping minority motorists without cause and allegedly taking their money. The case gained national attention when it was alleged that Tenaha's mayor and district attorney knew about the civil rights violations, but did nothing to stop them.
With this latest ruling, the date for the civil case can be set, says Tim Garrigan, attorney for the plaintiffs. "It was so blatant. They were just, you know, some days all day long, they were just pulling over motorists, searching their cars, looking for money. If they didn't find any, they would just move onto the next car," he said.
Last year, a constable for the police department said as many as 1,000 motorists may have been targeted.
Garrigan says he's not sure when a trial date will be set, since Judge Rodney Gilstrap now presides over the federal court in Marshall, following the retirement of Judge T.J. Ward. However, the statute of limitations is running out for those who would like to join the class action suit, according to Garrigan.