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Lawsuit claims charges based on ‘contempt of cop’

An Alexandria man arrested after refusing to give his name to a Stafford County sheriff’s deputy is suing the officer, contending his experience illustrates the risks of “driving while black.”

According to the suit, George Wingate, an African American, was having car troubles when Stafford Dep. S.A. Fulford, who is white, stopped to see if Wingate needed help. The encounter became heated after Wingate refused to tell the officer his name.

Wingate claims – with support from a dashcam video – that the officer told Wingate he was not free to leave unless he provided his name. After several minutes, Fulford arrested Wingate, telling him that failing to identify himself was a crime.

Wingate broke and ran as he was being handcuffed, but was chased down and cuffed by Fulford and another officer, according to the suit.

Charges of failing to give his name and obstruction of justice both were nolle prossed, with a prosecutor noting on the paperwork that the state would not refile the charges, according to the suit. Wingate’s car, which had been impounded, reportedly was repossessed by a lienholder.

Wingate’s lawsuit, filed in Alexandria federal court, contends the officer deemed it “contempt-of-cop” for Wingate to refuse to give his name.

“No officer, including Dep. Fulford, could reasonably have believed that it was constitutionally permissible to detain or arrest Mr. Wingate by reason of his refusal to identify himself,” the lawsuit said.

Wingate is represented by Victor M. Glasberg and Maxwelle C. Sokol of Alexandria.

A spokesperson for the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office said the department had no statement on the lawsuit.