By Julissa Catalan
An Indiana couple is suing the Hammond (Ind.) Police Department for excessive force after traffic police broke the passenger window with a baton and then tased and dragged a man out of the car—all in front of his children.
What crime did the man commit
According to the lawsuit, the driver, Lisa Mahone, was initially pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. Officers then asked Jamal Jones, the passenger, for identification. After explaining that he did not have his ID on him—he handed over various other documents—officers pointed their guns at Jones and ordered him out of the car. Mahone immediately called 911, saying they were in fear of their lives.
What happens next was caught on video by Mahone’s 14-year-old son, who was sitting in the backseat of the car along with his 7-year-old sister.
An officer can be seen shattering the passenger window with a baton, sending shards of glass flying into the vehicle. Jones is then tasered, screaming in pain as police swing open the car door to drag him out and handcuff him.
According to the lawsuit, the children received minor cuts from the glass.
Jones says he hesitated to get out of the car because Mahone’s children were in the car and already afraid of the guns being pointed at the vehicle.
Mahone’s daughter can be heard screaming “Mommy!” in the video.
“Thank goodness Joseph took the video, because the video stands for itself that these officers engaged in excessive force,” attorney Dana Kurtz said in a news conference with the couple Tuesday.
“My civil rights were just thrown out the window, along with my body,” Jones said.
Watch a clip from the press conference here:
The Hammond Police Department addressed the incident in a statement, saying, “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 with 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.”