CHICAGO - A northwest Indiana family has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Hammond, Ind., police officers of excessive force, false arrest and battery during a traffic stop in which officers broke a car window and deployed a stun gun.
Jamal Jones, his girlfriend Lisa Mahone and Mahone's two children were driving to a Cook County, Ill. hospital on Sept. 25, after Mahone got a call from doctors telling her that her mother was in grave condition, reports CBS Chicago.
On their way to the hospital, Hammond police pulled them over because Mahone was not wearing her seat belt, the lawsuit alleges.
The traffic stop was recorded on a cell phone by Mahone's 14-year-old son, who was sitting in the back seat with his younger sister.
According to the station, Mahone says she admitted not wearing a seat belt and asked to be given a ticket right away so she could get to the hospital to see her dying mother. Instead, she says, Hammond officers Patrick Vicari and Charles Turner demanded to see Jones' identification.
Jones told police he did not have his ID because he had recently been given a traffic ticket, according to the lawsuit. When he reached into the back seat to get the ticket, the officers drew their guns and refused to take the ticket as a form of ID, the lawsuit says.
The family's attorney has released a three-minute YouTube video, part of which is seen above, showing the traffic stop.
In the video, Jones is seen refusing to get out of the vehicle, despite officers' commands to do so. The lawsuit claims Jones did not oblige because he feared for his safety due to "the officers' aggressive demeanor."
Police eventually broke Jones' window with a large tool, shocked him with a stun gun and dragged him out of the vehicle, according to the lawsuit. Officers then handcuffed and arrested Jones for resisting arrest.
"At no point during this entire encounter did Jamal physically resist the officers in any way," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit also claims Mahone's son and 9-year-old daughter were hurt by the shattered glass from the broken car window.
Hammond police defended the officers' actions, saying they "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," Hammond Police Lt. Richard Hoyda said in a prepared statement.
Hoyda said Jones refused repeated requests to exit the car and authorities feared he may have had a weapon in the car.