Hudson Valley Mother Sues Over Video of Cop’s Encounter With Teen
A Hudson Valley mother is suing after viral video appears to show a Hudson Valley cop slamming a teen girl to the ground. The lawsuit also claims police destroyed evidence.
On March 11, Jamelia Barnett and Julissa Dawkins were falsely arrested and brutalized by City of Poughkeepsie police officers, according to attorney William O. Wagstaff III.
The video of the event went viral. A 17-second video posted to social media of police responding to the scene appears to show an officer yanking and slamming a young girl to the ground.
According to the City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison's office, it appears that during an altercation between two female students, two people were arrested for interfering with the police effort to break-up the fight. The fight is believed to be a continuation of an earlier altercation involving the same two students.
Wagstaff claims that in the days following the arrests, detectives embarked on a campaign of intimidation under the appearance of an investigation into the events.
"Detectives threatened teenage witnesses with jail time if they refused to give statements or cooperate in ways supportive of the arresting officers' narrative. Even worse, they held one witness in custody for close to five (5) hours while police personnel deleted video evidence off her cellphone. In addition, they forced the teenage witness to provide her login credentials to her cloud account and deleted evidence from the cloud," Wagstaff said in a press release.
According to Wagstaff, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison "and his administration remained arrogantly defiant to calls from the community for justice." and meetings with Rolison to "improve police training and discipline officers, with an eye towards easing the communal tension, were unsuccessful."
Rolison said in a statement Monday the arrests were justified.
"We haven’t received anything further officially regarding the March 11th, 2019 incident. The arrests of two individuals by City of Poughkeepsie police officers were thoroughly investigated and were found to be reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, which included an officer being forced to the ground and a fight that had spilled-out into traffic on the Eastbound Arterial. This administration has the utmost confidence in the Police Department and recognizes the hard work it does to keep the community safe," Rolison said.
Melissa Johnson, the mother of Julissa and Jamelia, has filed a Civil Rights lawsuit on their behalf in the Southern District of New York. According to Johnson, her children haven't been the same since March 11.
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