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Lawsuit After Police Taze A Passenger, Smash Window In Traffic Stop

What started as a routine traffic stop in Hammond, Indiana spiraled out of control two weeks ago and ended with local police breaking the window of the car and tasering the passenger in the front seat. On Monday, the passengers in the car filed a federal lawsuit against the officers for assault, battery, and using excessive force during the stop.

The incident took place on the afternoon of Sept. 24, when Lisa Mahone was pulled over by local police for not wearing her seatbelt. A friend, Jamal Jones, was in the passenger seat and her two children, age 7 and 14, were in the back seat at the time. One of the children recorded a several minute video (above) on a cell phone of the incident. Here’s more on what transpired via 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.”

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.

Officers pull Jones out of the car as Mahone’s 7-year-old daughter can be heard in the backseat crying. 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 Hammond Police Department issued a release saying “that Jones requested medical help after he was arrested and that the Hammond Fire Department EMT took him to a medical facility from the scene,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “The police report says 13 minutes had gone by when that happened and that police Tasered him because they were concerned when they kept seeing Jones and Mahone reach to the back seat.”

“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,” the police department said in the release.

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