Joseph Harter says he was beaten so badly by a police officer last year that, for a moment, he was blinded by his own blood in his eyes. But as brutal as that detail is, it isn’t what makes Harter’s case unique.
It’s that Harter was allegedly assaulted in the dead of night in his bedroom—and he still doesn’t know why. In fact, the confrontation ended with Harter being charged with assault and thrown in jail.
This week, the 43-year-old Kansas man—whose race has not been identified—filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming he’s the victim of illegal entry, battery, false imprisonment, and excessive force, reports the Washington Post.
According to the suit, Harter woke up at about 3 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2018, and sat up in alarm after he discovered someone else was in his bedroom. Harter didn’t know it at the time, but that man was Kansas City Police Officer Faisal Hassan.
Hassan jumped at him, hitting Harter in his head and upper body with what could have been a flashlight or baton. Harter says he may have passed out. As he came to, Harter realized other officers soon were in the room, and even though they didn’t touch Harter, they didn’t stop the beating either.
The horrific night Harter describes ended with a charge of battery of a law enforcement officer. It was eventually dropped by the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office less than two months later.
As the Post notes, Kansas law says civilians cannot resist any type of arrest—even if it’s illegal.
Harter is seeking $4 million in damages from the suit, which names Officer Hassan, former police chief Terry Zeigler, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and unknown police officers as defendants, according to the Kansas City Star.
He also wants to know why it all happened in the first place. As Harter’s lawyer, Bill Dunn, told the Post, the beating doesn’t seem to be an address mix-up. Nor does he know any of the cops personally, the attorney says. Because the police didn’t accuse Harter of anything aside from assaulting a police officer, it’s unclear what exactly caused officers to identify Harter or enter his house.
The fact that the alleged assault came completely unprovoked still sits with Harter, who says he’s still traumatized by the attack. For more than a year, he’s experienced nightmares and anxiety, his lawsuit claims.
“I think what you’re wanting to understand, and certainly I want to understand too but I don’t, is what are the police doing in there,” Dunn told a Kansas City Star reporter. “That will hopefully come out as the case moves forward.”