Federal Lawsuit Accuses Mich. Police of Badly Beating, Wrongfully Arresting Unarmed Black Teen

The teen, identified only as D.B. in court documents, suffers from severe headaches, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting and speech problems because of a brutal beating he says he was subjected to by a Grand Rapids, Mich., police officer. 

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A federal lawsuit filed last week accuses a Grand Rapids, Mich., police officer of using “unreasonable and excessive force” while having “no lawful authority” to arrest a black teen in June 2014 during an incident that left the young man severely injured, the New York Daily News reports

The officer, identified as Sean McCamman, punched the unarmed teen in his head and bludgeoned him with the bulb end of a flashlight following a chase related to reports of a black male with a gun, according to the lawsuit. The young man, identified only as D.B. in the lawsuit, was 15 at the time and was later cleared of resisting and obstructing charges. He was also acquitted by jury of a gun charge. 

However, since the incident, D.B.’s life has changed. His attorneys say he suffers from severe headaches, muscle spasms, nausea, vomiting and speech problems, the Daily News reports. His injuries delayed his high school graduation and kept him from playing sports, at which he had excelled, lawyers and the teen’s mom, Natalie Thompson, indicated in a statement. 

“My son’s injuries are so severe that he will never fully heal mentally, physically or emotionally,” Thompson said. “He, myself and our family are devastated by the abusive beating that a minor child endured. The officers involved have no concept of the severity of their actions. No one is above the law. We are all accountable for our actions.”

The lawsuit also points fingers at Grand Rapids, accusing the city of failing to properly train and supervise McCamman and two other officers, Nathan Mead and Peter Thompson. Thompson, the lawsuit claims, stood by and did nothing while McCamman hit the teen. All three officers allegedly gave misleading information to prosecutors, the Daily News reports. 

D.B. and four other teens were running from officers on June 13, 2014, around 9 p.m., ignoring officers’ orders to stop, blocks from where the reported black male with a gun was seen, according to the lawsuit. 

McCamman eventually caught up with the 15-year-old when he tried to go over a fence, and the officer threw D.B. to the ground facedown before hitting him repeatedly, the teen’s attorneys said. 

McCamman, the lawsuit claims, “intended to use deadly force.” Photos show D.B. with a bloodied scalp and staples in his head. 

“[The family wants] to see change with the racist practices of the Grand Rapids Police Department that have been prevalent for some time,” one of the attorneys, Keeley Heath, said. “At this point, I think, for the family, it’s much less about the money. It’s about sending a message to the police that this can’t continue.”

Read more at the New York Daily News

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