Don’t Bogart That Joint, My Friend

(CN) – A California man with a doctor’s prescription for marijuana demands punitive damages for Berkeley police officers’ “gratuitous mayhem,” saying they ran him over with a bicycle, knocked him down and stomped him because he was smoking a joint during a Mardi Gras parade.




     J. Hadley Louden says he was marching down Telegraph Avenue during the 2009 Mardi Gras parade, “wearing a large set of drums and cymbals on a harness around his upper body and strapped over his shoulders and around his waist; and he was smoking a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette, for which he had a doctor’s prescription.”
     He was leader of the band, Louden says.
     He claims a Berkeley cop, “Kelley,” “approached him and demanded the cigarette. Plaintiff bridled, explaining that his possession was legal and turned away,” according to the complaint in Alameda County Court.
     Then another cop, “Cummings,” rammed him with a bicycle, “injuring him and damaging his instruments,” he says. Louden says he “turned back to defendant Kelley and handed her the cigarette,” whereupon he was set upon by other cops.
     Louden claims Berkeley’s Finest “kneeled and stood on top of him, kicking, stomping and pressing his face and body into the pavement, while handcuffing him.”
     He says the officers “stomped him in the back with boots, twisted his arms and handcuffed him improperly and painfully, and threatened him with a large knife which they ten used to needlessly and roughly cut his drum harness straps.”
     Louden claims this was “gratuitous mayhem, clearly carried out ‘maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm.'”
     In addition to his injuries, he says, he was “gratuitously shamed” and suffered “financial and other loss.”
     He demands punitive damages for civil rights violations. He is represented by Dennis Cunningham of San Francisco.

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