DAGSBORO, Del.- It was Reginald Johnson's 43rd birthday, when he claims he was brutally assaulted by Seaford police officers after getting pulled over. It was all caught on camera. Johnson has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Seaford and two of the responding officers, Cpl. Marc Russell and Officer Mills.
The incident happened on the evening of Sept. 18, 2011. According to Johnson, he was on his way home to Dagsboro after celebrating his birthday. But along the way, he was pulled over. And as police video shows, Johnson was tased and handcuffed by police. Lawyers for Johnson argue those officers used "unnecessary force."
In video released from a police dash cam, an officer can be heard yelling "Step out!"
"Ok, I'm getting out, I'm getting out," Johnson is heard yelling back.
Within seconds, the video shows Johnson getting jolted by a taser and falling to the ground, crying out in pain.
Now lawyers for Johnson are crying foul.
"There's ongoing litigation right now, so I can't really go into the facts of the case," noted Stephen Norman with the Norman Law Firm. "But what I can tell you is the video itself is very descriptive about exactly what occurred to Mr. Johnson on his 43rd birthday."
According to police reports, a police tracking device went off as Johnson's car drove past, indicating the cellphone of "a wanted felon" Delaware State Police officers were searching for was inside.
In the police video, Johnson can be heard repeatedly asking "What have I done?"
Later, when officers ask for his name, Johnson is heard responding, "My name is Reginald Johnson, man."
But police questioned him.
"Yeah," he replied.
"You sure about that?"
In a statement to WBOC from representatives for the officers and the City of Seaford, lawyer Dan Griffith said, "We believe that, once all of the facts and surrounding circumstances are considered, the case is entirely defensible. We look forward to trying the case in the court where it was filed, rather than in the media".
Police reports indicate officers were "concerned for their safety," and warned Johnson he would be "Tased."
At one point in the video, the lawsuit claims an officer on scene can be heard talking about "planting drugs" in the car.
"Somebody drop the dope in here," remarked one of the officers, later identified as Cpl. Aaron Mitchell, after a handcuffed Johnson was put inside a police cruiser.
Johnson was later taken to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital where he was treated for numerous injuries.
According to court documents, officers later admitted to Johnson that he was not the individual being sought by police. However, he was still charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Those criminal charges were dropped in March of this year.
This latest action represents a civil lawsuit. Johnson is seeking compensation for both physical and psychological injuries he claims resulted from his interaction with police on that September 2011 night.
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