A Black college student who was forcibly detained by D.C. police after a white woman said she felt “uneasy” after encountering him at a Citibank ATM last year has filed an $11 million lawsuit against the District.
According to DCist.com, 19-year-old Jason Goolsby is suing the District for failing to prevent his false imprisonment, assault and battery by Metropolitan Police Department officers.
An unnamed woman called the cops on Goolsby and a friend in October 2015 because their presence at a bank seemed “suspicious.”
“Hi yes, umm I want to report that there are 3, umm teenagers in the Citibank on Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh…that are waiting at the door to let people in, but aren’t doing anything inside of the bank,” the caller told a 911 dispatcher. “Uh we just left, but we felt like if we had taken money out we might’ve gotten robbed. Umm so…”
Cellphone video of police violently arresting Goolsby sparked national outrage and prompted the hashtag #JusticeforJason. The teen’s friend, Michael Brown, could be heard screaming to the officers that Goolsby had done nothing wrong.
“It scarred him for life — physically and emotionally,” the teen’s lawyer, Peter Grenier, told DCist.
Not only is Goolsby suing the officers involved, but the police dispatcher as well, who the lawsuit accused of giving false information that led to his brutal arrest. The defendants all remain unnamed.
Late last year, the MPD concluded its year-long investigation into the matter and determined that the officers were “justified within departmental policy” in arresting Goolsby — who they said attempted to flee the scene. DCist reports that doctors later treated the University of D.C. student for severe injuries to his face, left arm, neck, back, and thighs at Washington Hospital Center.
“When I fled, I saw a gun and pepper spray and I nearly got hit by a car, so my first instinct was to run because I didn’t want to die,” Goolsby said of the frightening incident.
According to D.C.’s Fox 5, the 55-page report read, in part: “In review of the facts and documents presented in this matter, this investigating official concludes that the forcible stop and frisk by (officers names redacted) was necessary and reasonable.” The report also stated that Goolsby refused commands to stop and repeatedly reached into the backpack he was carrying at the time.
“I’m sure there is some anxiety on the officers’ side when he sees a person run with a backpack, then reaching into a backpack and refusing to take his hands out of the backpack,” said Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier. “And there is some anxiety and fear on the man’s side when an officer pulls up and says, ‘Hey, come here, I want to talk to you.’ ”
The MPD report did note that the dispatcher may have relayed “misleading” information about the teens to police, even after the caller said the young men “weren’t doing anything in the bank,” and “had not committed any crime in her presence,” according to court papers. It also added that there had been a string of robberies in the area lately, so the dispatcher’s faulty information likely gave officers the idea they were responding to such a crime.
“[The officers] converged on the teenagers as if they were apprehending a dangerous felon,” the lawsuit states.
Goolsby is suing for $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages, NBC News Washington reports.