Jamal Jones and Lisa Mahone have filed a federal lawsuit against Hammond, Ind., police, accusing them of using excessive force.
Hammond, Ind., police have come under fire after one of their officers was caught on video smashing open the passenger window of a vehicle and using a Taser on the man in the passenger seat, all while his family watched, Fox32 reports
According to the report, the incident in late September began as a traffic stop to cite the driver for not wearing a seat belt. Jamal Jones and his girlfriend Lisa Mahone, along with Mahone's two children, 14-year-old Joseph and 7-year-old Janiya, were driving from Hammond to a Chicago hospital where Mahone's mother reportedly was dying.
"I said, 'Oh my God, he's pulling me over like I robbed a bank,' " Mahone, who was driving, told the news site. "The whole situation was just crazy."
Mahone gave the Hammond officers her license and insurance card, but then things took an ugly turn when they asked Jones for his ID, Fox32 reports. Mahone prompted her son to start recording from his cellphone in the backseat as Mahone dialed 911, the station reports.
"I gave him my license and insurance. I also let him know at the beginning to please hurry up because my mom is about to die," Mahone told the emergency operator, according to the news site.
Jones, for his part, said that he did not have an ID on him because he had just gotten a ticket, according to the news station. He reportedly reached back to get the ticket from his bag, which was on the backseat, when the cops started to pull out their guns, the news station reports.
"'I'm scared for my life,' " Mahone can be heard on the video saying frantically to the operator. "He just pulled a gun on us and we don't have a gun!"
"I don't know you, and I don't know what you're going to do," an officer allegedly told Jones, according to the news site.
"That's why I have my windows up. I'm not no harm to you right now. I got my kids in the car and you're drawing your weapon," Jones responded.
Mahone can be heard on the phone with the operator throughout the beginning of the video as Jones converses with the officers, asking through the cracked-open passenger-side window to speak to a "white shirt" (a police supervisor).
The situation soon escalated as Jones continued to refuse to step out of the vehicle.
"You're going to come out of the car one way or another. You want your kids to see you come out through the window?" the officer allegedly told the man, according to Fox32.
The officers broke in the window with a baton, at which point 7-year-old Janiya, who was in the backseat, began screaming and crying.
The officer used his Taser on Jones, who began screaming in pain as well, as he was dragged from the car, the news site reported.
As Jones is brought to his feet and handcuffed, he can be heard on the video yelling at the officers, "Why would y'all do that s--t?"
"I was just so sad. It was horrible," Janiya told Fox32, recalling the incident.
Jones was charged with resisting law enforcement and refusal to aid the officer. However, the family is not taking those charges sitting down. They filed their own federal lawsuit Monday, accusing the officers of excessive force.
"They had no probable cause, one, to even ask Jamal to get out of the car or, two, to engage in excessive force in tasering and arresting him," the couple's lawyer, Dana Kurtz said, according to Fox32.
The Hammond Police Department released a statement saying that the officers "were at all times acting in the interest of the officer safety and in accordance with Indiana law," saying that officers are allowed to ask passengers to step out of vehicles without reasonable suspicion.
"There was absolutely no search, no nothing to suggest there was criminal activity going on. And certainly not anything that would authorize to taser someone and pull them out of the car and shatter glass into the backseat with children present," Kurtz said in response to the statement.