71-Year-Old Black Man Sues Police in South Carolina For Holding Him Naked Outside His Home at Gunpoint
Jethro DeVane (left) and his lawyer Justin Bamberg
There is growing evidence that American police regularly practice cruelty against black people.
Jethro DeVane, a 71-year-old man in Rock Hill, South Carolina, has filed a lawsuit against that city over an incident in June 2019 in which police ordered him out of his apartment and held him at gunpoint with his hands raised he was utterly naked.
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DeVane says he was asleep the night of the incident in question when he saw light shining through his window and got up to investigate by opening his back. This emerges from a report by CNN based on its legal complaint.
The light came from a flashlight lit by officers looking for four teenagers. But when they saw DeVane's door opened, they descended on the older man with all the aggression that we have expected from cops.
Body cam footage can be heard saying, “Rock Hill Police, let me see your hands! Let me see your damn hands! Go out! Go out! Don't close the door! "
According to the complaint, the officer "aggressively pointed his department-issued firearm at DeVane" and "cursed him for trying to shoot him." DeVane told the officer he lived in the house.
The complaint adds that DeVane was ordered "aggressively" out of the house and "completely naked" in his back yard. Officials ransacked his home while the officer who approached him first held him at gunpoint and forced the elderly man to "keep his hands on the outside wall of the house," the complaint said.
After the house search, the officer holding DeVane informed him that they were looking for a group of teenagers who were "running around trying to break into cars," the complaint read.
Body camera footage of the incident, captured by DeVane's attorney and shared by WCBD News 2 in South Carolina, shows an officer identified as Vincent Mentesana actually ordering the naked elderly man outside his home and pointing a gun at him - according to DeVanes for 90 seconds Legal action.
"I won't get over it for the rest of my life," DeVane said at a press conference with his attorney Justin Bamberg earlier this week. He added that a citizen complaint he filed against the officer was dismissed and that a month after the incident a police chief spoke to him and told him not to sleep naked.
“Why do we have to stand up for human decency and dignity here? It is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable, ”said Bamberg. "It has to stop before there is death."
Bamberg also said his client was treated less than a human, which is an accurate and depressingly common description of police interactions with blacks.
This final troubling story recalls Anjanette Young, the social worker who was approached by officials in her home in Chicago while she was naked despite not being the subject of her search. The video of the incident was discovered two years later as part of Young's lawsuit against the city.
Body camera footage certainly helped validate the lived experiences of dehumanization and police brutality that blacks in America have talked about for generations, but we clearly have not gotten to the point where police behavior changes in response to police change risk of being videotaped.
DeVane is suing Rock Hill for gross negligence, civil assault and assault, willful infliction of emotional distress and outrage, wrongful imprisonment, abuse of lawsuit, civil conspiracy, and violations of the state constitution. He also asked Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys for a formal apology.
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