April 30, 2009 - An Antioch family who owns homes which they lease to section 8 tenants has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Antioch. The suit alleges that members of the Antioch Police Department used rough tactics to force them to evict their tenants, many of whom are racial minorities.

The plaintiffs, members of the Patras family, own several homes in Antioch. They are suing the City of Antioch and four members of the Antioch Police Department in federal court for violating their constitutional rights. The complaint outlines numerous visits to their home by members of the specially formed “Community Action Team,” a police unit which the family alleges tried to intimidate them into evicting their section 8 tenants. The same unit also visited the homes of section 8 tenants looking for civil and criminal violations. (Those tenants filed a separate suit.)

Antioch CAT Team members pushed their way into the Patras’ family home on 5 occasions without consent and searched the home without a warrant. On one such occasion, an officer handcuffed Riaz Patras while another officer pulled out a gun when his wife Maryam came into the room and asked why her husband was being cuffed.

“I’m still shocked that police officers would be so emboldened and act so threateningly toward us in our own home,” says plaintiff Maryam Patras. “It’s hard to sleep at night and hard to feel safe in our own home now that this has happened. And these horrible incidents happened to us over and over again.”

Matthew Kumin, a partner at the San Francisco employment and civil rights law firm Kumin Sommers LLP, is one of the attorneys representing the Patras family. “It’s unfortunate and tragic that more than 40 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act we still see systematic and racially-motivated tactics by a city police department. Even in the Bay Area, it’s surprising that institutionalized racism continues.”

The case identifies many of the same issues as those in a federal class action recently filed by section 8 tenants against the City of Antioch.

The Patras’ case, called Riaz Patras v. City of Antioch, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and is numbered Case No. CV-09-1891.

Patras v. Antioch Complaint filed 2009.04.30.pdf829.32 KB