PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — A federal civil rights lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the ACLU of Nebraska says it wants to hold Papillion police officers accountable for a traffic stop that allegedly involved officers tasing a man, holding him down on the ground, and tackling his partner.
According to the civil rights organization, which is representing Jason Storrs and his partner, the lawsuit involves a traffic stop on the evening of Dec. 26, 2019. The organization said Storrs picked up his partner from work when he noticed a cruiser weaving through traffic at a high rate of speed behind them.
After Storrs pulled to the side of the road, officers approached the car, allegedly telling the couple they were investigating a shoplifting report.
The ACLU of Nebraska said the descriptions of the suspects didn’t match Storrs, his partner, or their vehicle.
“Dispatch had reported the suspects were either four Black women or a Black woman and Black man driving in a four-door silver Plymouth,” the organization said in a release. “Storrs is Black. His partner is white. They were in their two-door silver BMW.”
The ACLU of Nebraska said police ordered Storrs out of the car and he complied with the demand.
“When his partner stepped out of the car while recording on her phone, an officer lunged at the woman, tackling her to the ground as another officer tased Storrs’ groin and threatened to tase him again as officers held him face down on the ground,” the ACLU of Nebraska said in a news release.
At that point, the organization said police handcuffed both. After determining the couple was not involved in the shoplifting incident, officers did not cite Storrs for his partner for any crime.
His partner was brought to the hospital for injuries sustained during the incident, the ACLU of Nebraska said.
Storrs told the ACLU of Nebraska that he “feared for his life” during the traffic stop and asked his partner to call 911 as it happened.
“We were wrongfully accused, violated, and scared,” Storrs said. “Through this entire stop, we were never given the benefit of the doubt even though we had done nothing wrong. We were just trying to live our lives. We’ve seen too many situations like that end with a Black man dead. That’s why I want accountability.”
The ACLU of Nebraska said the lawsuit “argues the stop violated the couple’s rights in several ways," citing unlawful detention, excessive force, and retaliation against the protected activity of filming police.
Scout Richters, a legal and policy counsel at the ACLU of Nebraska, said the officers crossed the line.
“Our clients committed no crime, they were simply driving home and police had simply no justification at all to traumatize our clients and injure them,” said Richters.
The lawsuit requests the court find that police deprived the couple of their rights and award damages as the court sees fit.
”It could be a long road but we’re really looking at is accountability for our clients,” said Richters.
The Papillion Police Department issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
"The traffic stop on December 26, 2019 which resulted in a use of force incident was internally reviewed as well as externally investigated by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The results of this investigation indicated that no criminal activity occurred on the part of Papillion Police officers and no department policies were violated. The results of the external criminal investigation were forwarded to the Sarpy County Attorney’s Office for review, which concluded the use of force was justified."
The Papillion Police Department issued this description of the traffic stop:
"On December 26, 2019, Papillion Police responded to a shoplifting in progress call reported by Dick’s Sporting Goods, located in Shadow Lake Towne Center. A vehicle matching the reported description provided by Sarpy County Dispatch was seen accelerating away from the area. A subsequent traffic stop was conducted near 66th Street and Highway 370. Officers attempted to conduct a cursory shoplifting investigation to determine if the occupants were involved in the shoplifting. During the stop, there was a use of force incident involving a taser. Ultimately, it was determined that the occupants had no involvement in the shoplifting, and they were released without charges."
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