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Dan Keys Jr., 66, says he was only dropping his wife Symone Palermo, 53, at work when he was stopped by investigators who believed she was a cab passenger.
The couple has filed a $3 million dollar lawsuit claiming that authorities racially profiled the couple when agents seized their Lincoln Town Car for eight days. The couple says they attempted to explain the situation but still had their car seized and were issued a summons for court.
According to the New York couple, Taxi and Limousine Commission investigators believed Keys was operating a cab service because they mistook Palermo, who is biracial, for white.
“Upon information and belief, when attempting to identify illegally operated taxis, it is the official policy or custom of [the city and the TLC] to instruct its employees to target and single out vehicles operated by minorities with white passengers,” the lawsuit alleges.
Adding to the confusion, Palermo was seated in the backseat because rain had drizzled the front seat the previous evening. After dropping Palermo off at her job at Bob’s Discount Furniture, Keys was pulled over by investigators.
Keys says instead of trying to clear up the misunderstanding, investigators lied to him and said a “white female” had confirmed that he was an unlicensed cab driver. When Polermo arrived on the scene to help sort out the confusion, she was written a ticket as well.
“Once they pulled over my clients, [the investigators] had many opportunities to let them go — to realize they pulled over the wrong people. Instead they doubled down on their mistake. I believe that they flat-out lied in their summonses,” the couple’s attorney, David Haber, told DNAinfo.
The TLC did not comment on the allegations.