Lawsuit Accuses Officers of Abuse, Mistaken Identity During Traffic Stop

The suit also alleges the officers joked about "dropping dope" in the man's vehicle after discovering they pulled over the wrong person.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Delaware man claims that Seaford Police abused their powers when they pulled him over on his 43rd birthday. The NBC10 Investigators and Harry Hairston take a look at the dashboard video.

    A Dagsboro man is suing two police officers over a 2011 traffic stop in which he says two officers shocked him with an electronic stun gun because they thought he was somebody else.

    Dash cam video captured the September, 2011 incident in which Seaford Police officers pulled over and arrested Reginald Johnson on his 43rd birthday. The video first shows an officer walk up to Johnson’s vehicle.

    “How you doing?” asks the officer.

    “How you doing?” replies Johnson.

    “Come on out for me,” says the officer. “Step on out.”

    “What’s the problem man?” asks Johnson.

    “Step on out!” says the officer.

    The officer then opens the door and tells Johnson to step out again.

    “What the is the problem man?!” asks Johnson.

    “Step out!” shouts the officer.

    “Okay, I’m getting out, I’m getting out!” says Johnson.

    “Get out!” shouts the officer again.

    “I’m getting out!” replies Johnson.

    “We’ll taze you!” shouts the officer.

    “I’m getting out man!” repeats Johnson.

    From the video, it’s unclear whether Johnson actually attempts to get out of the car or if he resisted while the officer pulled him out. The video does however show the officer hit Johnson with a stun gun, causing him to scream in pain while protesting he did nothing wrong. Johnson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

    “The charges did not stick,” said Johnson’s attorney Daniel Herr. “They dropped those charges against Mr. Johnson without any concession by Mr. Johnson.”

    Herr filed a lawsuit against the officers in federal court.

    “I won’t comment too much on the video,” said Herr. “But the video does speak for itself about the events that happened to Mr. Johnson on his 43rd birthday and the damages he suffered.”

    The suit alleges police were looking for someone else when they stopped Johnson. The suit also claims that after police realized they made a mistake, one of the officers was captured on camera laughing after one suggested “dropping dope” in Johnson’s car. In the video, an officer can be heard saying, “I might drop the dope in there,” prompting laughter from another officer.

    The lawsuit also claims an internal investigation by Seaford Police found one officer acted with excessive force while the other engaged in unbecoming conduct for his comments regarding the planting of drugs.

    Seaford Police told NBC10 they would not comment due to pending litigation. They also declined to comment on the status of the officers captured in the video.