A husband and wife who went to the aid of protesters last year are suing Fort Wayne, Allen County, city police and county confinement officers who the couple say participated in the husband's beating, incarceration and denial of medical treatment.
The lawsuit is the third filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne involving last year's protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of 13 protesters and is representing Balin Brake in another lawsuit. Brake alleges he lost an eye when a police officer fired a tear gas canister at him.
The city is arguing the protests were not peaceful and has denied that police used excessive force.
The lawsuits are all asking for compensatory damages and attorney's fees.
In the newest lawsuit, filed in late May in Allen Superior Court and transferred to U.S. District Court on Tuesday, Jamison Darnell Chapman alleges he and his wife, Latina Evans, were stuck in their vehicle at Berry and Clinton streets about 7 p.m. May 30, 2020, while protests were raging downtown.
The couple said they were forced to exit their vehicle after their car was hit with tear gas and they and their dog couldn't breathe. They helped a man in the street who had been pepper sprayed in the face and got him to safety, washing the pepper spray from his eyes, the lawsuit said.
Police shot more pepper spray and three officers assaulted Chapman, the lawsuit said. He was taken into custody, “leaving his wife on the sidewalk screaming for her husband's release,” the suit said. Fort Wayne Officer Shane Pulver signed the probable cause affidavit in Chapman's arrest and is named in the suit.
Once at the Allen County Jail, the lawsuit said, Chapman was beaten by Allen County confinement officers who ran his head into a door while he was being handcuffed and kicked him “over and over again.” He said he suffered seizures while he was detained and asked for medical care but was denied.
The suit says he was admitted to Lutheran Hospital the day after his detainment and was taken to St. Joseph Hospital for his seizures. Chapman was incarcerated from May 30 through June 5, when he bonded out. On July 28, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he turned himself in, spending another week in jail.
His charges were dismissed Aug. 4, the suit says.
Because they were unable to return to North Carolina where they live, they both lost their jobs. Like other plaintiffs in protest suits, they are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees and other costs. They are represented by local attorney Christopher C. Myers.
Their lawsuit will add to the costs of the protests incurred by the city, according to documents obtained by The Journal Gazette.
The use of Fort Wayne attorneys has cost more than $170,000 as of June 21. The documents quoted the hourly rate at the local Beers Mallers law firm at $200. Costs generated from the Indianapolis-based Taft law firm were about $129,000. The hourly rate at Taft is $490, according to the documents.
Overtime costs for Fort Wayne police during the protests were more than $407,000. Munitions including tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets cost $172,000, according to the documents.
Through his attorney, J. Spencer Feighner, Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux denied allegations against his confinement officers.
Theodore T. Storer and Frederick Dobson, Beers Mallers attorneys, denied allegations against the Fort Wayne Police Department's SWAT team and other officers, including Pulver.