Hammond, Indiana police are being sued for “malice and reckless indifference” after smashing a car window and using a Taser on a passenger during a routine traffic stop in August.
Hammond police, however, say they did not use excessive force in the incident, maintaining they only resorted to the Taser after the passenger refused to get out of the vehicle. They also say the man, identified as Jamal Jones, reached into the back seat, leading officers to believe he had a weapon.
The disturbing video, which you can view above, tells a different story. After producing various forms of identification for police at their request, they smash the window, stunning Jones and pulling him out of the vehicle. The driver, identified as Lisa Mahone, was on the phone with 911, fearful because police pulled a gun on the car. There were two children, age 14 and 7, in the backseat when police broke the window.
The adults were pulled over for not wearing seat belts.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The officer told Mahone, 47, she was stopped for not wearing her seatbelt and asked for her driver’s license. The officer also asked to see Jones’ identification, according to both police and the lawsuit. Mahone produced her license, but Jones told the officer he had been ticketed for not paying his insurance and did not have his license, the lawsuit states.
Jones claims the officer drew his gun “for no reason” after Jones retrieved the ticket from his backpack and “offered the ticket to the officer.”
But police say Jones refused to hand over the ticket. “(Jones) refused to lower the window more than a small amount, then told the officer that ‘he was not going to do (the officer’s) job’ and for him to get a piece of paper,” police said in their statement. “The first officer then called for back-up after asking (Jones) several more times to provide his name.”
As the back-up officer arrived, “the first officer saw the passenger inside the vehicle drop his left hand behind the center console. . .Fearing for officer safety, the first officer ordered the passenger to show his hands and then repeatedly asked him to exit the vehicle,” according to the statement.
The lawsuit says Jones refused to leave the car “because he feared the officers would harm him.”
“Just give me a ticket for no seatbelt so I can go to the hospital because the doctor called me to tell me to come in because my mom is about to pass away,” Mahone said as officers continued to ask Jones to get out of the car, according to the video.
One officer tells Jones if he does not step out of the car, they will “have to open the door for [him].” Jones nods and, after a few moments, one officer breaks the window with a club and uses a Taser on Jones, the video shows.
In the video, taped by Mahone’s 14-year-old son, you can hear the 7-year-old child crying. The lawsuit against Hammond police says shards of glass from the broken window hit the children in the backseat.
The lawsuit accuses police of battery and false arrest, saying the officers’ actions “were taken intentionally with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference to the rights and safety of plaintiffs.”
Hammond police disagree.
Police, in their statement, said officers “who make legal traffic stops are allowed to ask passengers inside of a stopped vehicle for identification and to request that they exit a stopped vehicle for the officer’s safety without a requirement of reasonable suspicion.
“When the passenger displayed movements inside of the stopped vehicle that included placing his hand in places where the officer could not see, officers’ concerns for their safety were heightened,” it added.
Mahone was given a citation and let go. Jones was arrested for resisting law enforcement and refusal to aid an officer.
Watch the video above.
SOURCE: Chicago Tribune | VIDEO SOURCE: YouTube/CNN