Black teen sues the police involved in his false arrest, following violent detention after woman felt ‘uneasy’ at ATM.
NBC Washington reports that: An African American teenager who was forcibly detained by D.C. police last year is now suing the city, according to court documents.
Cellphone video showing two officers slam 18-year-old Jason Goolsby to the ground as they try to handcuff him went viral last October. In the video, Goolsby can be seen face down screaming.
The Grio states that: Last year, the video footage of Goolsby’s arrest went viral and sparked outrage as he could be seen twisting in pain while his friend, Mike Brown, shouted to the officer that Goolsby had not done anything.
— DCist (@DCist) October 12, 2016
Hello beautiful relays that: According to the DCist, Jason Goolsby, a 19-year-old Black college student, was placed under false arrest in 2015 after an unidentified white woman called the cops because she felt “uneasy” at a Citibank ATM machine and believed she was going to be robbed by Goolsby and a friend, Mike Brown. Yet according to Goolsby, all he did was pause to open up the bank door for a couple with a stroller.
Dcist narrates that: “It scarred him for life—physically and emotionally,” Goolsby’s attorney, Peter Grenier, told DCist.
On the evening of October 13, 2015, D.C. Police said that they got a call “for a suspicious person, three subjects may be trying to rob people at the ATM,” according to an MPD report. The caller told the 911 operator that she “felt like if we had taken money out we might’ve gotten robbed,” according to an MPD transcript. In Goolsby’s account, he merely opened the door to the vestibule so that a white couple with a stroller could easily pass through; they left without taking any money, which thought was odd.
The caller also said, according to the court filing, that although she felt unsafe, the teens “weren’t doing anything in the bank,” and “had not committed any crime in her presence.”
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) October 15, 2016
The lawsuit alleges that the dispatcher then “relayed false and/or misleading information” to MPD officers in the field, most of whom were left with the impression that they were responding to an imminent or already attempted robbery.
When officers arrived at the scene, they saw Goolsby and his friend walking down the street “not doing anything wrong, and there was still no report of an actual crime,” according to the suit. But instead of approaching them calmly, the officers “converged on the teenagers as if they were apprehending a dangerous felon.”
When a fast-moving police SUV headed straight toward him, Goolsby quickly jumped on the curb, Grenier said at a press conference following the incident. Goolsby was both scared and bewildered when a white police officer driving the car demanded he get on the ground, Grenier continued. Fearing for his life, Goolsby fled, according to the court filing.
After a short pursuit, the officers caught Goolsby, and violently apprehended him, as shown in the video, which was taped by Brown. Goolsby remained handcuffed for an extended period of time until officers let him go.
Physicians treated Goolsby for severe injuries to his face, left arm, neck, back, and thighs at Washington Hospital Center. Goolsby will also need continued psychiatric counseling, according to Grenier, who added that the entire incident “was all predicated on the fact that they were black—everyone acknowledged they were doing nothing.”
NBC Washington further reports that: Cathy Lanier, the police chief at the time, said the police dispatcher made a mistake saying the teens may have been trying to rob people rather than acting suspicious.
According to Goolsby’s lawsuit, an officer threatened to use pepper spray on him if he refused to get on the ground. Goolsby, a student at the University of the District of Columbia, ran from officers because he had done nothing wrong and he was scared, the lawsuit said.
Dcist adds that: Mayor Muriel Bowser told Goolsby that she would personally sit down with him to discuss the case, but reneged on her promise, said Grenier. LaToya Foster, a spokesperson for the mayor, confirmed that Bowser has not met with Goolsby, but couldn’t say the reason why.
After a month-long internal investigation, MPD concluded that the officers were justified in their actions. According to the report, they used options that were “reasonably necessary to bring this situation under control” and to “overcome the level of resistance” offered by Goolsby. It argues that the interaction involved the “minimum amount of force necessary” to restrain the student. The Washington City Paper’s Will Sommer first reported the suit.
— MySkinIsMySin1 (@MySkinIsMySin1) October 15, 2016
According to the court filing, Goolsby is not only suing the officers involved but the police dispatcher—all of whom are currently unidentified. The suit alleges that the dispatcher gave false information that contributed to the series of events.
The Grio articulates that: Although the MPD determined that the officers used force that was “reasonably necessary to bring this situation under control” and to “overcome the level of resistance,” Goolsby is now suing for $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
We applaud and appreciate the Black teen’s bravery – even after the false arrest and violent apprehension, he’s standing and speaking out against police brutality. Police officers do not hesitate to harm Black people; once they receive any reports of crime and a Black suspect is at the scene, they are too quick to use excessive force on him/her as if the skin color can be a proof of criminal intentions.