A man is suing the City of Laurel and a police after the officer allegedly struck the man while he was in handcuffs.
Police responded to a fight at the Laurel Station Bar and Grill early Sunday morning. Cellphone video appears to show 27-year-old D’Ante Williams being struck three times by a police officer while being led away in handcuffs.
"They put the handcuffs on me everything, and as we're walking up to the car, I don’t know exactly what was said to the officer or what he said to me anything, all I know is I was getting hit and there was just excruciating pain going through my head," Williams said.
His attorney, Jimmy Bell, filed a $3 million civil action, which is just shy of half of the city’s public safety budget for fiscal 2011.
"There’s no reason in the world when a person is in handcuffs for you to hit them repeatedly,” Bell said. “It’s on tape, and we have no confidence in the city to find the officer violated my clients’ rights, so we filed a lawsuit in court."
The suit alleges assault, battery emotional distress and civil rights violations. It identifies the officer as Pfc. J. Diaz Chavarria.
A police representative said the command structure was quickly made aware of the incident early Sunday.
“The shift supervisor alerted the Laurel police chief right away, and an internal investigation was opened immediately,” Carreen Koubek said.
Williams's scars have yet to fully heal, and neither, he said, has the emotional toll of what happened.
“Emotionally, it’s really just stress-like,” Williams said. “It's been hard for me to sleep. I wake up with cold sweats."
Williams and the other man involved in the fight police were responding to were both arrested, and Williams was charged with refusing to obey a police officer among other charges in connection to that incident.