A 20-year-old man in New Jersey has filed a complaint with the Jersey City Police Department after he said he was unjustly issued nearly a dozen tickets last month when he parked legally near his home.
The incident occurred around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 28, after Tariq Baxley, who was returning home from work, said he spent an hour searching for a parking spot in The Hill section of Jersey City. He had just pulled into a legal parking spot when he was approached by three plainclothes police officers in an unmarked car, Baxley said.
"Confused, I asked what’s going on, and immediately I get cussed out, and told to shut up," he wrote in a Facebook post that has been widely shared online. "I don’t know if it’s because I have tinted windows that flagged them, but they treated me as a joke, and criminal."
NBC News was referred by the police department's internal affairs unit to Jersey City officials for comment on Friday. A spokeswoman for the city declined to comment.
Baxley filed his complaint with the city police department's internal affairs unit on Thursday, according to a copy of the complaint provided to NBC News.
Among his 10 tickets from Aug. 28 — eight traffic summonses and two city-ordinance summonses — were some for tailgating and littering, according to the complaint.
He was also ticketed for parking illegally and having unclear license plates, though in the photo he shared online the day of the incident, the rear license plate on the vehicle he was driving is clearly visible and it appears to be in the clear of a "no parking" sign.
Baxley, 20, told NBC News that he tried to reason with the three officers, one of whom is a sergeant, informing them he was "not a thug," has a clean record, goes to church and is a student at Rutgers University, but they "continued to behave unprofessionally."
"They acted like complete jerks," he wrote in his Facebook post. "They tormented and humiliated me."
"They never told me why they pulled me over, and I asked them after they issued me the tickets and was told to ask the court why," he told NBC News. "They broke a lot of protocols."
Baxley said he plans to fight all but one of the tickets — the one for having tinted windows. He has a court date of Oct. 7 to contest the other tickets, some of which come with point penalties.
Baxley, who is African American, said he does not believe the incident was racially motivated but rather the result of what he described as an abuse of power by police officers in New Jersey's second-largest city.
"They don’t treat urban people with respect, specifically black men," he said. "They label everybody as being thugs or ghetto."
Baxley said he has organized a public meeting in his neighborhood this month on police-community relations.