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Lawyers clash over police checkpoint

A controversial Charlottesville area police checkpoint has sparked a dispute between the local prosecutor and a crusader against overzealous law enforcement.

Albemarle County supervisors are caught in the middle as civil rights advocate John W. Whitehead and county Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Y. Lunsford disagree over county police tactics.

The trigger for the dispute was a July 11 police roadblock at a county subdivision where police asked drivers to show their licenses. One driver refused to show his license and was involved in a confrontation with officers before being allowed to leave.

Whitehead, president of the Charlottesville-based Rutherford Institute, urged county supervisors to condemn the alleged mistreatment of citizens and demand a formal explanation of the motives for the checkpoint.

Lunsford defended the handling of the July 11 checkpoint and urged supervisors to stay out of the matter.

“I respectfully suggest that the issue of such checkpoints be left to the Police Department and that this Board not unnecessarily, needlessly, and inappropriately involve itself in the enforcement of criminal and traffic laws,” Lunsford wrote.

County spokesperson Lee Catlin told the Associated Press officials are reviewing Whitehead’s complaint.

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