Lawsuit alleges excessive police force

Handcuffed and sitting on a Kansas City street with blood trickling from the gash above his right eye, Carlos McCain vowed to sue the police officers who arrested him.

This week, he followed through by filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that he was the victim of excessive force in the October 2010 incident.

McCain’s lawsuit is the third in the last 14 months that accuses the same Kansas City police officer, Brandon Hunter, of using excessive force — a point McCain’s attorney makes in the court papers.

Kansas City police said Wednesday they cannot comment on pending litigation.

The first lawsuit naming Hunter stemmed from the October 2008 arrest of Kansas City resident Jesus West, who filed it in October 2010. It alleged that Hunter and another officer, Michael Lenoir, “threw plaintiff (West) to the ground and struck him repeatedly about the head and other parts of the body.”

In their report, the officers wrote that they were attempting to arrest West for driving with a suspended license, having no insurance and improper tags on his car when he became combative and pulled away as he was being handcuffed. He told them he had cerebral palsy, but when he grabbed one officer’s duty belt, he was “placed” on the ground, according to the report.

Last April, an out-of-court settlement was reached for $52,000, but with no admission of wrongdoing.

The second lawsuit, filed two months ago, stemmed from another October 2008 arrest. The plaintiff, Arrika Brazil, contended that Hunter tried to serve her with civil court paperwork outside a midtown tavern, and that he grabbed her arms and “twisted” them behind her back to handcuff her. It also says that he dragged her into the street and threw her face-down onto the pavement.

When one of her hands slipped out of the cuffs, a second unknown officer “threw Ms. Brazil back onto the ground landing with the full weight of his body on hers.” Other officers roughly threw her into the back of a police wagon, according to the lawsuit.

McCain’s suit stems from a traffic stop captured on patrol car video.

On the video, Hunter tells McCain that he pulled him over because his rear license plate was obscured and was not properly lighted.

He asks McCain several times if he can see his license and proof of insurance. McCain curses and disputes that his license plate can’t be seen. Hunter then asks him to step out of the vehicle. McCain curses and calls the officer a liar as he steps out.

Hunter takes McCain’s arm and tells him to turn around. McCain says “Hey man,” before being wrestled to the ground. Another officer comes in and helps handcuff him.

On the video McCain repeatedly says “you busted my head” and asks why.

“You weren’t following my verbal commands,” Hunter answers.

McCain then tells the officers that he’s glad they have “dash cam.” He repeatedly curses at them and tells them he is going to sue.

In all three cases, charges filed against the arrestees later were dismissed, according to their attorneys.

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