CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) -- Former Gov. Christie Whitman is being sued by the man she was photographed frisking during a police ride-along in 1996.
Sherron Rolax, 21, claims he was targeted by New Jersey State Police because he is black and was victimized, in part, because Whitman and the troopers had a "cavalier attitude" toward racial profiling.
The suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Camden, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Three troopers and Col. Carl A. Williams, state police superintendent at the time, are also named as defendants.
Whitman, now administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, declined comment Tuesday because she has not seen the suit, a spokeswoman said. Spokesmen for the state police and the governor's office also declined comment.
Rolax was 17 and unarmed when he was frisked by Whitman, who was patrolling Camden streets as part of a crackdown on crime. The photograph, taken by a trooper, became public last summer.
Critics said the picture proves Whitman encouraged racial profiling, a claim the ex-governor has denied.
The suit claims Capt. Edgar Hess offered a week's vacation to any trooper who could photograph Whitman frisking a suspect. Hess, who is named as a defendant in the suit, has repeatedly denied the allegation.
Rolax, who was not arrested on the night he was patted down, now lives in a halfway house as part of a four-year sentence on unrelated drug charges.
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