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Lubbock Denies Hampton Bias Claims

July 16, 1999

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) _ The city denied in court documents that police were racially biased when they arrested Hampton University basketball coach Patricia Bibbs, her husband and an assistant.

In documents filed Thursday, the city said Bibbs and two others brought the arrests on themselves with their conduct when questioned by police.

``This defendant denies any behavior that was constitutionally deficient for racial or other reasons,″ the filing says.

Bibbs, her husband, Ezell, and former assistant Vanetta Kelso were arrested in Lubbock last year on suspicion of committing a money scam in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart. They sued the city, Police Chief Ken Walker, five officers and unnamed EMS medics for $30 million, claiming discrimination. The three plaintiffs are black.

The city’s filing was a response to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit and the city’s answer agree on some points but offer vastly different accounts of several events that unfolded Nov. 16, 1998.

When police attempted to pull over the coaches’ van, the plaintiffs describe the distance they drove before pulling over as ``very short.″ The city says they drove three-quarters of a mile while being followed by two marked patrol cars with emergency lights flashing.

According to Patricia Bibbs, she immediately told officer David Houser that she was Hampton’s basketball coach and that her team was in town for a game against Texas Tech.

The officers say Ezell Bibbs first revealed the information as Sgt. Roger Hearron arrested him.

``Mr. Bibbs stated to Sgt. Hearron, `I hope you all know, you’ve just arrested the head coach of Hampton University,‴ the city’s answer says. ``Plaintiffs chose to be deliberately evasive in their answers to police officers at the scene of the initial stop.″

The lawsuit also claims that Kelso, who was pregnant, received inadequate medical care. According to Kelso, police ignored her pleas for help when she vomited inside a police car.

According to the city’s account, Kelso refused to answer police who asked if she needed help and instead repeatedly said, ``You’re killing my baby.″ Police immediately called an ambulance for her, the city says.

With the city’s filing, U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings indicated he will rule within 10 days on whether the civil case may proceed. Cummings has issued a gag order for all parties in the case.

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