Northwest DC

‘Walking While Black': DC Man Sues Park Police for $1M After Arrest

Jonathan McKinney, a professional dogwalker, says he was walking home through Battery Kemble Park when officers chased him, Tased him and put him in jail for a night

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A Northwest D.C. man sued U.S. Park Police for $1 million on Thursday after he says officers chased him and used Tasers on him this summer. 

Jonathan McKinney said he has no idea why officers arrested him in July. He said a Taser was used against him, injuring his back and leg. He was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police, but the charges were dropped the following day. 

“I felt like I was being bum-rushed or ambushed, and it was very shocking,” he said at a news conference Thursday. 

McKinney’s lawyer said his client was profiled for “walking while Black” in his own neighborhood. 

“A Black male who had never been arrested is now in the criminal justice computer system,” Donald Temple said. 

McKinney, a professional dogwalker, said he was walking home through Battery Kemble Park in the Palisades neighborhood and playing Pokémon GO on his phone when a man stared at him and repeatedly tried to talk with him. Not knowing the man in plain clothes was a U.S. Park Police officer, McKinney said he told him not to speak to him. 

When McKinney walked out of the park, officers jumped him without warning or explanation, he said. Out of panic and fear, he ran. 

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“They were pursuing me, and I was afraid for my life,” he recounted. 

The officers chased McKinney to a fence and shot him with three metallic Tasers, tackled him to the ground and arrested him, he said. 

He was fingerprinted, spent a night in jail and was released the next day, the lawsuit says. He said he was not told why he was stopped or arrested in the first place.

A court document provided by his attorney shows that charges that he assaulted three officers and resisted arrest were dropped. 

McKinney was joined by his mother, grandmother and girlfriend at a news conference announcing the lawsuit against unknown officers. 

U.S. Park Police said in a statement that the agency “takes any allegation of misconduct seriously. We cannot comment on litigation, but will make incident information available as soon as we are able.” 

McKinney said he wants justice.

“I’m just hoping for accountability and for professional behavior and for people to be able to move freely in their communities without threat of being profiled,” he said. 

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