A federal lawsuit has been filed against two officers with the Fayetteville Police Department for the violent arrest of a 22-year-old woman who was arrested in her vehicle on private property.
The video taken on September 6 by the woman, Ja’Lana Dunlap, shows the two officers, Ryan Haddock and Amanda Bell, yanking her out of the car, slamming her against it, and asking her for ID. The lawsuit, according to WRAL, then states that Dunlap was arrested. However, Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins said that Dunlap was released because police did not find that she did anything wrong.
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Chief Hawkins said that police were looking for a fugitive at the time of Dunlap’s arrest. The fugitive was on the run from police and was considered “potentially” dangerous. Dunlap was considered suspicious because she was on a vacant lot near where the fugitive ran.
According to the attorneys who filed the suit, Harry Daniels and Carnell Johnson, Dunlap said she was taking pictures of the lot for her employer. The video that Dunlap took only shows about a minute of the police encounter before the officers took her phone and smashed it on the ground.
Chief Hawkins has made a request to the NC Superior Court to release footage from the two officers’ body cameras. Attorney Johnson said that the footage would be released soon, following a court hearing on Tuesday, October 25.
The lawsuit claims that the two officers, Haddock and Bell, did not have enough “reasonable suspicion” to make the arrest and that Dunlap’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when she was “wrongfully and unjustifiably” stopped, seized, and arrested.
Dunlap said that she did not provide ID, which is when officers began being more aggressive. It is worth noting that North Carolina has no “stop and identify” statute. Officers cannot ask for ID except under certain circumstances, like a traffic violation, according to Johnson.
After being slammed into her vehicle, Dunlap began to have trouble breathing. Her sickle-cell anemia contributed to her breathing issues as well. The lawsuit states that she began to breathe irregularly and started to vomit in pain.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $75,000 in damages for injuries and degradation that Dunlap suffered during the arrest.
At a Tuesday press conference, Dunlap says that she hopes that with this lawsuit, she can speak up for those who can’t. “You never know being African-American, if your life can end by police, even if you didn’t do anything wrong,” she said. “You have to speak up for yourself,”
She also had a message for the officers who hurt her. “You’re supposed to protect and serve, not harm innocent people.”