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07.15.2021

On July 9, 2021, a Maryland federal district court jury unanimously returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Special Agent Nathaniel Hicks, finding that two U.S. Park Police Officers, Gerald Ferreyra and Brian Phillips, deprived him of his rights under the Fourth Amendment by unlawfully detaining him on two occasions as he was attempting to carry out his official duties. The jury awarded Agent Hicks $205,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $525,000 in punitive damages.

Relman Colfax represents Special Agent Hicks, an African American Secret Service agent who, while on duty in July 2015 and preparing to lead a motorcade through Maryland, was unlawfully detained by Ferreyra and Phillips on the shoulder of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Testifying at trial, the officers admitted that shortly after they detained Agent Hicks, they had no suspicion of any criminal activity on Agent Hicks’s part. They nevertheless continued to detain him, holding him at gunpoint, cursing at him, taunting him, and surrounding his vehicle with Park Police cruisers until the motorcade he was scheduled to lead had passed. The jury found that the totality of the officers’ actions during the seizure were unreasonable.

Following supervisor intervention, the Park Police eventually released Agent Hicks, but less than a mile away from the first seizure, Agent Hicks was pulled over a second time, this time by Officer Phillips. The jury found that when Officer Phillips initiated this second stop, he recognized Agent Hicks as the man he had just detained, and that his actions further violated the Fourth Amendment.

Relman Colfax filed the initial complaint in Hicks v. Ferreyra, et al., 16-cv-02521-PWG (D. Md.) in 2016. It was tried before the Hon. Paul W. Grimm of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The trial team was led by Jia Cobb, Yiyang Wu, and Angela Groves of Relman Colfax, with paralegal assistance by Olivia Fritz and Sonali Durham.

For more information on this case, including a Fourth Circuit decision on interlocutory appeal, please visit the case page.

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