Two women allege in a federal lawsuit that their constitutional rights were violated by the way employees of the Franklin County sheriff’s office removed them from a vehicle in which they were passengers.
Hannah Clark and Maysia Harris accuse Sgt. Nathan Doty and Deputy Phillip Ray of “unreasonable, gross and unconscionable use of excessive force” in an incident in Frankfort Sept. 20.
The women were “innocent passengers” riding in the back seat of a car that was engaged in a police pursuit, the suit states.
As soon as the pursuit ended, the driver, Delano Washington, 26, got out and lay “prone on the ground, his arms outstretched.” As Frankfort city police officers who were “peacefully restraining” Washington, the suit states that “Doty rushed over and unnecessarily and with malice kneed Washington in the face.”
Clark and Harris remained in the backseat and “were seated upright in their seats with their hands in the air sticking out of their respective passenger windows.”
The suit says “Ray, with his handgun drawn, and without any cause or justification, assaulted and battered” the women “by reaching into the vehicle’s backseat, and viciously yanking them from the vehicle and slinging them to the ground, with such force as to cause them demonstrable physical injury.”
Harris sustained a concussion as a result of the “unnecessarily violent and terrifying encounter,” the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Frankfort alleges.
The incident was captured on cell phone video and video from a Frankfort police officer’s dashboard camera, according to the suit.
The women were not charged.
Clark and Harris allege that their rights under the fourth and 14th amendments were violated.
“While this was occurring, City of Frankfort police officers can be seen assisting the front-seat passenger out of the vehicle and helping him to his feet,” the lawsuit states. “The stark contrast between the restrained, professional conduct of the City of Frankfort police officers at the scene, compared to the unrestrained, violent, and malicious conduct of Defendants Doty and Ray, reveals that the FCSO has obviously serious deficiencies in employing, supervising, and training its officers that is likely to result in more – and more serious – violations of the constitutional rights of Franklin County residents if allowed to continue.”
The suit, which also names Sheriff Chris Quire and Franklin County as defendants, says the county and Quire “engineered a sham investigation that absolved Ray of any consequences for his misconduct.”
The sheriff’s department did not respond to requests for comment by The State Journal in Frankfort and WTVQ. Attempts to reach someone with the sheriff’s office Saturday were not immediately successful.
According to a police citation filed in Franklin District Court, the incident began in the early hours of Sept. 20, when Doty said he saw the driver, Washington, “swerving all over the roadway” on Wilkinson Boulevard.
Doty tried to stop the vehicle, but “Washington led deputies and city police officers on a high speed pursuit. Speeds reached 90 mph on residential streets,” according to the citation.
Police said one of the three passengers said she was afraid and had asked to get out of the car.
“Mr. Washington wrecked his vehicle into Sgt. Doty’s vehicle while making a right turn into Prince Hall Village Apartments,” police said in the citation. “During the pursuit deputies witnessed marijuana, that was recovered, being thrown from the car. Mr. Washington showed total disregard for human life while being pursued. He smelled strongly of alcohol and marijuana. His eyes were red and glossy, he was manifestly under the influence of marijuana and alcohol.”
Police said Washington refused a blood test.
He was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment of a police officer, first degree wanton endangerment, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, fleeing or evading police, first-degree criminal mischief, disregarding a traffic light, tampering with physical evidence, careless driving and possession of marijuana.
He pleaded not guilty.