From what I can see and hear it appears that the cop who broke the window and tased the passenger overreacted
October 7, 2014, 4:13 PM
A federal lawsuit accuses Hammond police of "malice" and "reckless indifference" when they smashed a car window and used a Taser on a passenger during a traffic stop last month..
But Hammond police, in a two-page rebuttal, said they resorted to force only after the passenger repeatedly refused to leave the car and kept reaching toward the back seat, prompting fears he may have had a weapon.
Neither the police statement nor the lawsuit say a gun was found in the car.
Statement from the Hammond Police DepartmentRead the story >
The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 when Lisa Mahone was pulled over as she drove with a friend, Jamal Jones, and her two children, 7 and 14, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Indiana.
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."
Family cellphone video shows Hammond police officers breaking the car window and using a Taser on Jamal Jones during a traffic stop.
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."
Around this time, Mahone shifted the car into gear and began moving until officers warned her that a "stop strip" had been placed in front of her car and would puncture her tires.
It is quite obvious that this family was not a threat, so either these police officers are absolutely incompetent in their judgement and frighten much too easily, or they are power hungry racists. Either way, they don't belong on the job.
Mahone told the officers they were on the way to Stroger Hospital in Chicago to visit her sick mother. In a video recorded by Mahone's 14-year-old son, she can be heard calling the Hammond police department to explain the situation.
"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.
Officers pull Jones out of the car as Mahone's 7-year-old daughter can be heard in the backseat crying. The lawsuit says shards of glass hit the the girl and the boy in the back seat.
Police said the officers took the action "fearing the occupants of the vehicle may have possessed a weapon, and seeing the passenger repeatedly reach towards the rear seats of the vehicle."
According to the lawsuit and the police statement, Jones was arrested and issued citations for resisting law enforcement and refusal to aid an officer. Mahone was cited for not wearing her seatbelt and was allowed to leave.
The lawsuit accuses Hammond police of excessive force, battery and false arrest, saying the officers' actions "were taken intentionally with malice, willfulness, and reckless indifference to the rights and safety of plaintiffs."
But 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.
Hammond police said an officer also recorded the incident.
What the video doesnt show is that the officers were trying to get the occupant out of the car for THIRTEEN minutes.