Kernersville police accused of illegally seizing $20,000 from couple

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Kernersville police officers illegally seized $20,000 in cash from a Surry County couple last May under a department policy in which officers take money from people without probable cause, a federal lawsuit alleges.

In the lawsuit, Teresa Blackburn and Adrian Martinez-Perez say that Kernersville police officers physically assaulted Martinez-Perez and seized $16,000 that Blackburn had intended to use to start an automobile sales business. They also seized $4,000 that Martinez-Perez had as advance payment for a renovation job he was performing.

A judge in Forsyth District Court granted a permanent injunction against Kernersville giving the money to the federal government and found no legal justification for seizing the money, according to court documents filed in the Forsyth County Hall of Justice.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina, alleges that the Kernersville Police Department has a policy of taking money from people without probable cause and that the policy disproportionately affects blacks and Hispanics. Blackburn and Martinez-Perez are Hispanic.

Read full story: Winston-Salem Journal