A woman who says she was slammed to the ground and knocked unconscious while in handcuffs is suing several Coldwater, Michigan, police officers following the bloody incident that was captured on video.
The incident occurred at a secure entrance to the county jail.
The federal lawsuit filed by Tiffany McNeil alleges that police used excessive, “thug-like” force, and then lied about what happened.
“It was absolutely egregious, disgusting, thug-like conduct,” McNeil’s attorney, Solomon Radner told the Detroit Free Press. “You don’t expect that from police officers, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.”
Cameras inside the secured entrance, a large, garage-like area of the Branch County Jail recorded a police officer holding McNeil, who is standing and in handcuffs, with her face pressed against a brick wall. McNeil appears to yell at the officer, who then appears to pull her away from the wall and slam her, face-first, on the ground. Five other police officers are standing nearby, the video shows.
“I told you to relax,” the officer can be heard yelling as he put his knee on McNeil’s back as she lay motionless on the ground.
The officer then rolls her over to discover a pool of blood under her head. The officer removes McNeil’s handcuffs, and another officer is seen checking for her pulse.
Radner, her attorney who provided the video to news outlets, said McNeil was taken to a hospital where she required 17 stitches for a cut over her eye. He said she also suffered a concussion.
McNeil, 31, was arrested July 24 at her home. Her husband called police during an argument, according to the lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit says McNeil had been drinking alcohol.
Beyond the physical nature of the officers’ behavior, McNeil’s lawsuit alleges that the officer and two others lied about what happened in their police reports. The reports note McNeil being “combative” and “actively resisting” arrest. It said she wound up on the ground because she fell, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit identifies the officer as Lewis Eastmead, who could not be reached for comment by the Detroit Free Press.
The lawsuit lists Eastmead and about a dozen other officers and police department supervisors, including the officers who witnessed the incident, as defendants. Some are identified by name and others are listed as John Doe. McNeil is also suing the city of Coldwater.
The lawsuit alleges excessive force as well as unreasonable seizure; abuse of process and malicious prosecution; that the other police officers failed to intervene “to prevent the violation of Ms. McNeil’s constitutional rights,” and that city failed to properly screen, train and supervise its police officers. It seeks at least $75,000 in damages.