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Jury sides with woman, finds I-15 traffic stop by UHP trooper improper

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Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-01 17:55:59-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A jury in federal court has sided with a California woman who sued a Utah Highway Patrol trooper and Iron County Sheriff’s deputy over a traffic stop and search of her car.

In a verdict handed down Friday night, the jury sided with Sherida Felders and awarded her $15,000 in damages from the 2008 traffic stop on I-15 near Cedar City. Felders and her passengers, Delarryon Hansend and Elijahjuan Madyun, were detained by the side of the road while police searched her car for drugs. None were found.

In an interview with FOX 13 last year, Felders had claimed the traffic stop was because she is African-American. However, she was not allowed to bring it up at trial. Instead, the mostly white jury of nine men and three women was tasked with deciding whether the traffic stop was proper.

The jury found UHP trooper Brian Bairett was at fault. The jury did not find Iron County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Malcom at fault. The jury did not find any damages in favor of Hansend and Madyun.

The lawsuit was initially appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who sided with Felders and ruled it could go to trial. FOX 13 reported on the trial last week.

“I felt like they were bullies with badges,” Felders told the jury during her testimony.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the verdict.

“Deputy Malcom has always been known as an honest and excellent law enforcement officer and he is happy that the jury vindicated his reputation and integrity by the verdict, finding that he did not violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,” Malcom’s attorney, Frank Mylar, said in an email to FOX 13.