SPD Officer Faces Two Lawsuits Alleging Excessive Force - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

SPD Officer Faces Two Lawsuits Alleging Excessive Force

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 SALISBURY, Md.- It is the second time in one week that a lawsuit has been filed against the Salisbury Police Department and one of its officers.

In the first lawsuit, Attorney Luke Rommel is representing Curtis Adams, a recent Salisbury graduate, Travis Guthrie and Abdi Gelata.

Rommel alleges that officer Justin Aita used excessive force when arresting Adams outside the Salisbury University Tunnel the night of May 3. Adams said he was among 20 to 30 people who were leaving a bar shortly after a fight broke out.  Adams tells WBOC he does not know why the officer pursued him. Rommel tells WBOC the answer is still unclear.

" I never spoke a word to the cop, never said anything to him, never talked to him,” Adams said. "He immediately starts kneeing me in the stomach, in the side and pushed my face down.”

Rommel describes cell phone footage, which captured the entire encounter.

"The injuries to Curtis are generally consistent with being tackled to the ground by surprise," Rommel said. “ Force was used and force did not have to be used, initiated or escalated.”

Rommel said he filed this lawsuit the day after Labor Day, just one week before filing a second lawsuit against the same cop Friday in U.S. District Court. He said 14-year-old Renaldo Mesadieu and his aunt, Alexandra Francois, were assaulted by the officer Aug. 11.
 
The lawsuit said Aita pulled Mesadieu over in the area of North Salisbury Boulevard at Pine Wine , in Salisbury, for operating a bike without a light and for wearing headphones on both ears.

According the police report, the teen identified himself as “Troy Mitchell.” The officer conducted a search on his person and property. The lawsuit said the officer found no contraband, weapons or anything suspicious.

The lawsuit said Mesadieu tried to leave the scene, but Aita caught up with him, threw him to the ground and assaulted him.

Alexandra Francois saw the officer beating the teen and later realized it was her nephew. Aita threw her to the ground by her hair when she interfered, according to the lawsuit.

"Renaldo , who is a minor , was beaten after he was handcuffed by officer Aita, and the police report omits that important fact," Rommel said.

Salisbury Mayor Jim Ireton said the officer's actions have been reviewed.

" What we have done is made sure that we are looking at all of our internal records of both incidents to make sure the employee is following and doing what he should be doing,” Mayor Ireton said." We have found that he is.

 Rommel said Adams, Gutherie and Gelata will appear in court September 15th on charges, including disorderly conduct.

Mesadieu and his aunt will appear in court Oct.14.



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