WASHINGTON, D.C. - A D.C. Police officer in the center of a viral video that sparked a lawsuit is being fired by the police department.
A spokesperson for D.C. Police says they have completed their internal affairs investigation into the September 2017 incident and Officer Sean Lojacono has a pending trial board hearing.
A source tells DCW50 the formal term is "adverse action panel," which is essentially the appeal process for an officer after the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department makes a decision to fire them.
Because it is a personnel issue, D.C. Police would not comment further.
"This is a positive development, it's really important that a clear message be sent to other officers that this kind of conduct is not acceptable," says Scott Michelman, Legal Co-Director for the ACLU-DC, who is representing 39-year-old M.B. Cottingham in the lawsuit.
Michelman says Officer Lojacono conducted an an unconstitutional and exceedingly invasive bodily search of Cottingham, without a warrant, reasonable suspicion, or probable cause.
Cottingham told DCW50 back in July that he was in the Bellevue neighborhood, with a group of friends, when police arrived and asked the group whether or not they were carrying guns.
He says Officer Lojacono asked him what he had in his sock, and Cottingham pulled out a small, legal amount of marijuana. Seeking to avoid a confrontation, Cottingham offered to let Officer Lojacono pat him down.
A YouTube video shared by a friend shows him being patted down from behind by Officer Lojacono, then objecting when the search included an alleged probing from the officer.
Cottingham was then handcuffed, and the search continued. Cottingham said his genitals were grabbed and he was also probed two more times by Lojacono.
After hearing about D.C. Police firing Officer Lojacono on Monday, Cottingham called the development a "relief."
The ACLU says in the meantime, their lawsuit is moving forward to the discovery stage.
"We hope that this is a sign of greater interest in taking seriously complaints from the community and the importance of treating all members of the community with dignity," says Michelman.
DCW50 contacted Officer Lojacono's attorney for comment, but we are still waiting to hear back.