The federal lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina names four police officers. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the alleged excessive use of force and the illegal search of the plaintiff’s purse and vehicle.
Stephanie Bottom was driving on Interstate 85 from Georgia to North Carolina on May 30, 2019, to attend her great-aunt’s funeral, her attorney, Scott Holmes, told Citizen Free Press on Tuesday. The then 66-year-old librarian from Fulton County, Georgia, was listening to music and did not initially see the flashing blue lights coming from the police vehicle behind her, Holmes said.
According to the lawsuit, Bottom did not believe she was speeding and did not think police were trying to stop her.
Deputies with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and the Salisbury Police Department were attempting to stop Bottom, arguing that he was driving at 80 mph in a 110 km / h zone, according to the lawsuit.
“Once it was clear that they wanted her to stop, she was scared and looked for a safe place to stop,” Holmes told Citizen Free Press in an email.
The cops had their sirens on for at least 10 minutes, according to body camera footage cited in the lawsuit and reviewed by Citizen Free Press. It is unclear how close the police were to Bottom’s vehicle before it stopped, as the images only show the interior of the police vehicle and the sky.
The cops drew their guns
Upon seeing that Bottoms did not stop immediately, one of the police officers who carried out the traffic hold, identified in the lawsuit as Salisbury Police Officer Devin Barkalow, made statements recorded on his body camera saying that Bottom was a “damn retard” and a “moron”, according to the images from the body camera.
Another agent involved in traffic control, identified as Agent Smith, went ahead of Bottom and deployed bands of spikes that immediately immobilized his vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, when Rowan County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Benfield and Barkalow approached his vehicle, they drew their guns and pointed them at him. She was “terrified” as officers yelled at her to get out of the vehicle.
Within seconds of reaching the driver’s door, officers grabbed Bottom by the arm and hair and pulled her from the vehicle to the ground, according to body camera footage. The lawsuit names Benfield and Barkalow as the two responsible officers.
The footage shows Bottom screaming as Benfield, Barkalow and Salisbury Police Officer Adam Bouk force her to lie face down on the ground, according to the lawsuit.
The police officers allegedly denied him medical treatment
Policemen pulled Bottom’s arms behind her back as she screamed in pain and sirens blared in the background, according to the footage. The force applied by officers caused Bottom’s shoulder to “pop out, tearing the rotator cuff and causing serious injury,” according to the lawsuit.
The fourth officer named in the lawsuit is Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten. The lawsuit claims that in his official capacity he “approved and condoned the illegal behavior.”
Citizen Free Press has reached out to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department for comment, but has yet to receive a response.
In a statement to the media, the Salisbury Police Department said it could not comment on pending litigation, but is doing its best “to ensure positive interactions with our residents and visitors, even in cases where [la policía] may suspect criminal activity. ‘
Bottom claims officers refused to provide her with medical treatment even when she told them she was in pain, according to the lawsuit. While she was handcuffed to the side of the road, officers searched her vehicle and purse without her consent, without a warrant, and without probable cause, violating Bottom’s rights under the Fourth Amendment, according to the lawsuit.
After the search, officers told Bottom to stand up, but she said she couldn’t because of her shoulder pain, according to the lawsuit. Officers Barkalow and Bouk grabbed her by the arms, inflicting further pain on her shoulder, forced her to stand up and put her in the back of a patrol car, according to the lawsuit.
During this time, Bouk is heard on body camera recordings telling the other policemen, “That’s good police work, honey,” according to the lawsuit. It also claims that the officers congratulated each other on their work and an officer identified in the lawsuit as Barkalow is heard bragging about having picked up a “handful of dreadlocks” and saying that “at that time he had earned it.”
Ultimately, Bottom received medical attention at the scene and was taken to hospital, according to the lawsuit. She was later operated on for the injury, but they were unable to fully repair her shoulder, according to the lawsuit, and there is now permanent damage.
Officers issued a subpoena against Bottom, accusing her of “speeding … of not respecting blue lights and of resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer for allegedly refusing to get out of his vehicle and walk away from the officer,” according to the lawsuit. .
The woman appeared in court for the traffic violations, pleaded responsible for not paying attention to the blue lights, and the other charges against her were dismissed, according to the lawsuit.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.