An African American man who was punched in the face by US police officers in a case of mistaken identity has been paid US $18.
A Washington Post report states DeShawn Franklin was asleep in his bedroom when US police officers, with their weapons drawn, barged in, punching and tasering him and then dragging him from his bed, handcuffing him and putting him in a police car.
It was 2012 and he was an 18-year-old high school senior innocent of the crime officers thought he committed.
It was a case of mistaken identity, as the officers were looking for Dan Jones, Franklin’s older brother, after receiving a domestic violence call.
The officers did not have a warrant to enter the home, and went in without permission, the Post reports.
When they got to DeShawn Franklin’s bedroom, they woke him up, where startled and afraid, he resisted, so the police officers punched him and used a stun gun on him.
The officers soon realized that they got the wrong person, but handcuffed the teen and placed him in a squad car for resisting arrest.
He was released shortly after, according to the report, and the officers apologized to the family.
The police action prompted a civil rights lawsuit against the police officers and city officials, and in August a jury found that the officers violated Franklin’s constitutional rights by arresting him and entering his family’s home without a warrant.
The internal affairs investigation found that the officers used excessive force and unlawfully entered the Franklins’ home.
The Washington Post reports the jury ordered each of the defendants to pay Franklin and his parents US$1 for the violations of their rights. The total award was US$18 in damages. The payment has been condemned by the family.
According to Russell Thomas Jr, Franklin’s nephew, the whole experience was a “slap in the face.”
“To me, it’s just solidifying that blacks in America, we have no rights,” he said. “How can we fight for something when the system was not made for us in the first place?”
DeShawn Franklin told the Washington Post the settlement was hard for him to accept, but was also out of his control.
Peter Agostino, the lawyer for the police officers and the city in the lawsuit filed by the Franklins, said that the case isn’t about racial injustice, but about a lack of evidence.
He said the Franklins asked for more than US$1 million in damages but there was no evidence presented in court that supported the amount of damages that the Franklins were seeking.
In civil rights lawsuits, damages are usually measured by medical bills, lost wages, property damage, post-traumatic stress, psychological treatment, impairment and others, Agostino told the Washington Post.
But in this case, no such evidence was presented, so the jury awarded the plaintiffs the default amount of US$1, he said.
According to Agostino, the city did offer US$15,000 to settle the case.