Mandrel Stuart and his girlfriend were on a date driving on Interstate 66 toward the District when a Fairfax County police cruiser pulled out of the median and raced after them. The cruiser kept pace alongside Stuart’s old blue Yukon for a while, then followed behind for several miles before turning on its flashing lights.
The traffic stop on that balmy afternoon in August 2012 was the beginning of a dizzying encounter that would leave Stuart shaken and wondering whether he had been singled out because he was black and had a police record.
Over the next two hours, he would be detained without charges, handcuffed and taken to a nearby police station. He also would be stripped of $17,550 in cash — money that he had earned through the Smoking Roosters, a small barbecue restaurant he owned in Staunton, Va. Stuart said he was going to use the money that night for supplies and equipment.