What started as a traffic stop centered around an unworn seat belt ended with police officers shattering a vehicle's window and using a Taser on a passenger, an Indiana family alleges in a lawsuit filed Monday.
Video of the Sept. 24 traffic stop was recorded by a 14-year-old in the backseat of the car when the family was stopped while en route to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County to visit the driver's mother.
The driver, Lisa Mahone, said she became fearful when Hammond police officers Patrick Vicari and Charles Turner put spike strips in front of the vehicle after pulling her over in a manner that was "highly aggressive," she said in her complaint.
"I'm scared for my life," Mahone is heard on the video telling a 911 dispatcher with officers looming outside. "He just pulled a gun on us and we don't have a gun."
During a conversation and exchange of information with the officers, Mahone said her boyfriend, Jamal Jones, was ordered out of the passenger seat. Jones didn't get out of the car because he feared for his safety, the lawsuit said.
"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 statement.
Hoyda added that officers feared for their own safety because one officer said he saw Jones drop his hands behind the center console of the vehicle. They removed him after repeated requests to exit the vehicle and after they say Mahone "shifted her car into drive and moved her vehicle in a forward motion."
The video, recorded by Joseph Ivy, shows one of the officers busting out the passenger window with a tool. Broken glass injured Ivy and his little sister, Janiya Ivy, the complaint said. Jones is later seen in the video wincing in pain when a Taser is used on him. He was removed from the car, pushed to the ground and shocked a second time, the complaint said.
"I felt like my civil rights was just thrown out the window. ... I felt black again," Jones said during a Tuesday morning meeting with reporters.
The family's attorney, Dana Kurtz, told NBC Chicago that Jones was never told he was being arrested, nor was he told why they were ordering him out of the car.
"Thankfully Joseph videotaped it," Kurtz said. "I mean, what a great, smart 14-year-old to videotape this so there is actual evidence, and to be able to protect them and other citizens from this kind of conduct."
The lawsuit alleges excessive force, false arrest and battery, and cites three other cases in which Vicari was named as a defendant in cases alleging excessive force. Turner was named as a defendant in one other case involving excessive force, the complaint said.
The charge against Jones -- resisting arrest -- was pending Tuesday, Kurtz said.
"The Hammond Police officers were at all times acting in the interest of officer safety and in accordance with Indiana law," Hoyda said.