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LOCKPORT – The Niagara County District Attorney’s office filed a notice of appeal last week in connection with the dismissal of felony marijuana charges against two men, which was ordered because County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III believed they were victims of racial profiling.

Murphy said March 21 that he believed Niagara Falls police were unjustified in pulling over and searching the vehicle occupied by the defendants, even though the driver pleaded guilty to running a stop sign after the marijuana felonies were thrown out. Murphy said he thought it was a case of “driving while black.”

Murphy’s ruling nullified an indictment against the driver, Shateek L. Payne, 36, of Fillmore Avenue, Buffalo, and his passenger, Joachim S. Sylvester, 38, of Ontario Avenue, Niagara Falls, which was lodged after police found seven pounds of marijuana in the back seat, as well as 27 oxymorphone pills and a stack of counterfeit money in Sylvester’s pockets.