Dunwoody officer faces lawsuit over harassment allegations

What started as a simple traffic stop became a near 20-minute search when a man says a Dunwoody police officer accused him of having marijuana, searched his car and pat him down for drugs.

Colton G. Laidlaw is suing officer Dale Laskowski, alleging that he violated his civil rights when he decided to search his car without probable cause in March 2014.

Laidlaw, 17 at the time, was on his way to work when Laskowski pulled him over for going 15 mph over the speed limit in a curve, according to the lawsuit. Laidlaw wasn’t doing either, the lawsuit states, and the stop could’ve ended there.

What made it longer were Laskowski’s claims of marijuana “scattered all over the seats and floor,” according to a police report.

For Laidlaw, the incident went from annoying to uncomfortable as Laskowski searched the car and patted Laidlaw down, according to the lawsuit.

“He rips my car apart,” Laidlaw told Channel 2 Action News. “He doesn’t find any evidence of marijuana in my car.”

While Laidlaw and his attorney, Mark Bullman, insist there was no evidence of marijuana in the car, Laskowski noted in the police report that a little bit of it was collected and photographed.

Perhaps most confusing is that Laskowski only issued Laidlaw a warning for going too fast.

“If he really found marijuana all over this young man’s car, why didn’t he collect it?” Bullman told Channel 2. “Why didn’t he save it? Why didn’t he charge him for possessing marijuana if it was all over his car?”

This isn’t Laskowski’s first time being sued for similar allegations. Dunwoody police recently settled with three people who made similar claims, at least one involving Laskowski.

The police department paid the plaintiffs a combined $177,000. Bullman also represented the clients in the previous cases.

“When it’s a pattern of misconduct and an inability to understand and apply the law fairly to other people, you don’t deserve to be a police officer,” Bullman said.

In a statement, Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan said: “Due to the pending litigation, we cannot comment on the facts of the case. However, we are confident that the evidence in this case will result in a finding in favor of the City of Dunwoody and Officer Laskowski.”

RELATED: Dunwoody police settle civil rights lawsuits for $177,000

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.