CINCINNATI (CN) – A diabetic suffering “a medical emergency caused by dangerously low sugar levels” was pulled over by Hamilton County Sheriff’s officers, Tasered repeatedly, “violently dragged from the vehicle, thrown on the ground, kicked in the head by a boot, and stomped mercilessly while lying on his back,” the man claims in Federal Court. Plaintiff John Harmon, who is black, says he was driving through a white area at the time.
Harmon and his wife sued the county, the sheriff and his department, four patrol officers and a sergeant for the beating he got in October 2009.
Sheriff’s officers pulled him over after seeing his vehicle weaving, according to the complaint. Defendant Patrol Officer Ryan Wolf then “approached Harmon’s vehicle with his gun drawn along with a second patrol officer, Matthew Wissel,” the complaint states. “Without giving Harmon an opportunity to comply with any order, if, in fact, any order was given, Wolf shattered the driver’s side window of Harmon’s vehicle, spraying Harmon’s face and body with broken glass. As this was occurring, a third patrol officer, defendant [John] Haynes, arrived at the scene.
“Almost immediately, Harmon was Tased by defendant Wissel. The officers attempted to remove Harmon from his vehicle by violently pulling on his neck. Harmon was then Tased again. They were unable to remove Harmon because Harmon was caught in his seatbelt. Defendant Wissel cut Harmon’s seatbelt in order to remove him from the vehicle.
“Harmon was then violently dragged from the vehicle, thrown on the ground, kicked in the head by a boot, and stomped mercilessly while lying on his back. In the process, Harmon suffered numerous injuries, including a severely dislocated elbow and trauma to his shoulder and thumb. During the course of these events, which lasted approximately two minutes and twenty seconds, he was Tased seven times.”
Three more officers arrived during the beating, and one of them “located a diabetic kit on the floorboard of Harmon’s vehicle. At one point, Harmon was asked by the officers if he is diabetic, to which Harmon responded, ‘Yes.’ Paramedics were called to the scene, and it was confirmed that Harmon’s blood sugar level was extremely low.”
Harmon was taken to a hospital, where Patrol Officer Shawn Cox refused to let him use the bathroom. This “eventually resulted in Harmon being deeply humiliated and embarrassed when he urinated on himself,” according to the complaint.
Harmon was charged with “(1) failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer; (2) resisting arrest; (3) operating his vehicle with only one headlight; and (4) failure to drive in a marked lane.” All charges were dropped 2 weeks later.
The complaint states: “The actions taken by the defendants against Harmon … were due to the fact that Harmon was a large African-American male driving a sport utility vehicle at a late hour through a primarily white area of Hamilton County,” Anderson Township.
Officers Wolf, Wissel, Cox and Haynes are named as defendants, along with Hamilton County, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr., and Sgt. Barbara Stuckey.
Harmon and his wife seek punitive damages for excessive force and other civil rights violations, malicious prosecution, false arrest, constitutional violations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Timothy Burke with Manley Burke.