Hammond police accused of excessive force in traffic stop

HAMMOND, Ind. (WLS) -- A police officer broke a car window and used a stun gun on a man during a traffic stop in Hammond, Ind., as a 14-year-old boy in the backseat recorded video on a cell phone.

Lisa Mahone and her boyfriend, Jamal Jones, accuse the officers of excessive force, false arrest and battery in a federal lawsuit. The couple said they were on their way to visit her dying mother.

"My first thing that I said to them, 'My kids in the car. My momma's passing. Can we please just make this as quick as possible. Here's our information. Can we go to the hospital?' He threw that out the window," Jones said.

Mahone was pulled over at 3:45 p.m. on September 24, 2014, at 169th Street and Cline Avenue Service Road because she and Jones were not wearing seat belts as required by Indiana law, a fact she does not dispute. Mahone produced her driver's license for police.

"I was scared from the beginning. He asked me for my license and insurance. I gave it to him," Mahone said.

The Hammond police officer then went to the passenger side of the car to ask Jones for his identification. Jones told the officer he didn't have his license because he had been ticketed for not paying his insurance. Jones said he was trying to find the ticket in his backpack when the officer drew his gun and demanded he get out of the car.

"He was looking at me with his weapon drawn. Not once did he tell me to hold my hands up. He let me go in the bag, grab the ticket," Jones said. Jones said the officer refused to take the ticket through the small opening in the window or through the sunroof.

Mahone's two children were in the back seat. The 14-year-old boy, Joseph, recorded the exchange on a cell phone. His 7-year-old sister is heard screaming next to him.

On video, officers are heard demanding identification from Jones and telling him to get out of the car. He said he was scared for his life, so he refused. The video shows officers shattering the passenger side window of the car and using a stun gun on Jones.

Jones was arrested for resisting law enforcement.

"They escalated without any basis, without any cause," attorney Dana Kurtz said. "They were horrified. You hear Janiya, a 7-year old, in the backseat crying. And they were scared. And their perception of officers, who are supposed to be serving and protecting, not only them, but us, everyone, has been tarnished for the rest of their lives."

Kurtz said the children were injured by the broken glass. On the recording, Mahone is heard talking to a 911 operator, asking for a police supervisor to be sent to the scene.

In a two page response to the lawsuit, the Hammond Police Department said officers acted in the interest of their safety and within Indiana law. According to police, officers are allowed to ask passengers for IDs and to exit the vehicle without a requirement of reasonable suspicion during traffic stops.

The Hammond officers also recorded the stop, police officials said. That has not been released.

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