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Officer Down

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hammond family claims police overstepped their authority during traffic stop

--And another Facebook lawyer learns his lesson.
I do not understand why people continue to believe they can just disobey a lawful request or order from a police officer? 
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and time again that on a traffic stop the police have the right to ask all occupants for identification and/or to step out of the car.--

-My Fox Chicago-


Posted: Oct 06, 2014 8:27 PM CST
Updated: Oct 07, 2014 6:55 AM CST
By Dane Placko, FOX 32 News Investigative Reporter

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It started as a simple traffic stop and ended with a taser, tears and arrest -- and it was all caught on camera.

A family from Hammond said the video is dramatic evidence of police out of control. But Hammond police said they were left with no choice when one of the passengers refused a simple request.

The moment captured on cellphone video is now at the center of a lawsuit against Hammond police.

"The whole situation was just crazy," said Lisa Mahone.

Mahone, her boyfriend Jamal Jones, and Mahone's two children – 14-year-old Joseph and 7-year-old Janiya -- were driving in Hammond in late September. They were headed to Stroger Hospital in Chicago, where Mahone said doctors had called and said her mother was near death.

"I said 'oh my God, he's pulling me over like I robbed a bank,'" Mahone said.

Hammond police officers pulled Mahone over because she wasn't wearing a seat belt. She said she gave them her license and insurance card, but then things escalated when they asked for her boyfriend's ID.

With her son recording on his cellphone in the backseat, Mahone dialed 911.

"I gave him my license and insurance. I also let him know at the beginning to please hurry up because my mom is about to die," Mahone told 911.

Jones said he didn't have an ID to give to police because he recently got a ticket. When he reached into his book bag in the back seat to get the ticket, police drew their guns.

"I don't know you and I don't know what you're going to do," an officer told Jones. He responded, "That's why I have my windows up. I'm not no harm to you right now. I got my kids in the car and you're drawing your weapon."

Jones told FOX 32 News, "So once the kids were scared, I wasn't gonna get out of the car and leave my kids in the car. He was being so aggressive."

Jones then tried to give the ticket with his ID to police, but they refused to take it. He then asked the officers if they have a supervisor on the scene.

"You all got a white shirt?" Jones said. The officer responded, "Look at my shoulder dumb***. I got bars."

Police then continued to order Jones out of the car.

"You're going to come out of the car one way or another. You want your kids to see you come out through the window?" the officer said.

Mahone then again called 911 for a supervisor to come to the scene.

"I am scared. And the man--pulled a gun out. A gun! Why do my kids have to see that," Mahone told 911.

Three minutes after that call, police took action.

"Ma'am are you going to open the vehicle?" the officer said.

Mahone responded, "Why do you say somebody's not gonna hurt you? People are getting shot by the police--"

Suddenly, police broke open the window and tased Jones. Mahone's daughter began crying in the backseat after being sprayed with glass.

"I was just so sad. It was horrible," said daughter Janiya.

Police charged Jones with resisting law enforcement and refusal to aid an officer. The couple filed a federal lawsuit against Hammond police on Monday, with their attorney Dana Kurtz alleging the video shows officers clearly overstepped their authority.

"They had no probable cause, one, to even ask Jamal to get out of the car, or two, to engage in excessive force in tasering and arresting him," Kurtz said.

In a statement, Hammond police defend the officer's actions:

"The Hammond police officers were at all times acting in the interest of officer safety and in accordance with Indiana law... In general, police 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."

Kurtz responded, "There was absolutely no search, no nothing to suggest there was criminal activity going on. And certainly not anything that would authorize to taser someone and pull them out of the car and shatter glass into the back seat with children present."

One of the officers involved in the confrontation has been involved in two prior excessive force lawsuits, with the City of Hammond making payouts to settle both cases.

Hammond police also said the officers wanted to write Jones a seat-belt ticket as well, which is why they asked for his ID. But Jones said he was wearing his belt and the cops never told him that.

FOX 32's Joanie Lum contributed to this story.