A man from Black Kent County on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the Grand Rapids Police Department and five of its officers, claiming they beat him while he was unconscious after a traffic stop in November 2019.
The U.S. District Court lawsuit alleges that police violated Fahirri Dannah’s civil rights by using excessive force that caused “significant physical, emotional distress, psychological harm, and trauma.”
Dannah was taken to hospital with brain damage, a cut to the head and a dislocated shoulder, according to the trial.
The trial comes less than a month after a Grand Rapids officer shot Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old black man, in the back of the head after a traffic stop over an unregistered license plate.
Dannah’s lawyer Jon Marko called the case “another stain on Grand Rapid’s police department involving a minority suspect.”
“We have to ask the GRPD if this atrocity would have happened if his skin had been white,” Marko said in a statement Friday. “When does this stop?”
Dannah was a passenger in a car that was stopped for driving too fast on 11th Street and having an object hanging from the rearview mirror. After the driver gave consent to have his car searched, police demanded to search Dannah without probable cause, but he refused, the lawsuit states. The officers insisted that they would “pat” him for weapons.
Although Dannah again declined, saying he had no weapons, officers insisted on patting him down.
“After several minutes of being harassed by the officers for no reason, Mr. Dannah tried to end the meeting,” the lawsuit states.
Three officers responded by hitting Dannah’s head into the police cruiser, causing skin abrasions and brain damage, according to the trial. After he lost consciousness, officers threw him to the ground, and one of the officers threw her body weight at Dannah and got his shoulder dislocated. Two officers “beat the helpless Mr. Dannah,” it is alleged in the trial.
While not responding, an officer handcuffed him and falsely accused him of swallowing cocaine, though a drug test later came back negative, according to the trial.
Dannah was charged with assault, violence and resisting and obstructing a police officer.
The lawsuit claims that Grand Rapids police have a habit of using excessive force because its officers are improperly trained and not disciplined for brutality.
“The deprivation (of Dana’s constitutional rights) was caused by the series of deliberately indifferent policies, customs and established practices, including inadequate training, of the city of Grand Rapids,” the lawsuit states.
The five officers mentioned in the trial are Anthony Barberino, Harvey Barker, Zachary Kaiser, Melissa Moninger and Michael Spees.
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