Man accuses Costa Mesa officer of racial profiling after heated confrontation shown in viral TikTok

The Costa Mesa Police Department is now investigating.

Jessica De Nova Image
Saturday, January 28, 2023
Man accuses OC cop of racial profiling after argument shown on TikTok
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Video of a driver defending his rights as he denied a Costa Mesa police officer access to a vehicle for a search has gone viral on social media.

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) -- Video of a driver defending his rights as he denied a Costa Mesa police officer access to a vehicle for a search has gone viral on social media and police said an internal investigation is now underway.

The video shows Abdullahi Aden in the driver's seat speaking with the officer after he was pulled over at South Coast Plaza on Tuesday.

The video, which has since gone viral on TikTok, was taken by one of Aden's passengers. He said the group was heading back home to San Diego after doing some shopping.

Aden was behind the wheel of his friend's car when he said officers pulled him over for tinted windows.

Aden tells the officer he doesn't have his driver's license and gives him his driver's license number instead.

That's when the officer insists on searching the vehicle. However, knowing his rights, Aden refuses. The officer then suggests Aden studied law in prison.

"Okay, alright, you're a legal lawyer, aren't you?" the officer is heard saying.

"Nah, I studied at the number one public university though," Aden replied.

"What, prison?" the officer said.

Aden then corrects the officer, saying, "Berkeley."

"Prison? Look at you ... racist," Aden tells the officer. "I went to Berkeley."

Still, the officer remained persistent.

"When somebody doesn't have ID, law enforcement has a right to search the vehicle," the officer said.

"No they don't," Aden replied.

"Ok, well look it up," said the officer.

Adrienna Wong, an ACLU senior staff attorney with the Police Practices Project, said the officer was wrong.

She explained the 2019 California Supreme Court case People v. Lopez directly addressed this question and clearly established that someone not having their identification is not sufficient reason to be able to search them.

"This is just another example of how police use pretextual stops for petty offenses like tinted windows to try and pressure them into forfeiting their rights to be free from unreasonable searches," she said.

Aden said the interaction with the officer has pushed him into educating the public on their 4th Amendment rights.

"I wanted people to look at that video and say, 'Hey, what can I do the next time I'm with a cop? Like, can I talk like that?'" said Aden during an interview with Eyewitness News on Friday.

Aden said this isn't the first time he's felt racially profiled by law enforcement and learned from a past experience, though it shouldn't.

His time as a Golden Bear means humane treatment and respect.

"They were like, 'Oh, I'm so sorry boss. You have a great rest of your day. Enjoy your class. We're so sorry, we thought you were one of the other ones,'" Aden recalled.

A spokesperson with the Costa Mesa Police Department emailed the following statement to Eyewitness News:

"We are aware of a video on social media involving one of our officers. We understand the concern regarding the officer's dialogue during the traffic stop. We want to ensure our community that we take these matters seriously. We have received information from members of the public in regards to this incident and our department's Professional Standards Bureau is conducting a thorough and objective internal investigation into the matter."

Aden was cited for tinted windows and not having his license on him.

The vehicle was never searched.