Redford Township man's death after 2019 police encounter sparks lawsuit
Redford Township officials are facing legal action over a resident’s death nearly two years ago that his family believes resulted from a violent struggle with a police officer.
According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed Thursday in Wayne County Circuit Court, Baha Jundy’s constitutional rights were violated when an officer fired a Taser and “body slammed” him after the 58-year-old visited the township public service building to dispute a long grass citation.
“A police officer has a duty to protect and serve our community,” their lawyer, Majed Moughni, said in a statement. “A badge and a gun do not give an officer the right to silence a resident when a government employee no longer wants to listen to his complaints.”
The officer was called to the township building on Beech Daly on June 5, 2019, for “an irate male in the lobby” shortly before it closed, according to a police report The Detroit News reviewed.
Jundy wanted to resolve his citation for the lawn at the property he vacated weeks earlier after a fire left it uninhabitable, Moughni said.
An employee asked him to leave and said he would call the next day to review the issue; Jundy refused, according to the police report. The officer who responded also told Jundy to leave and “gently grabbed Baha’s left arm to escort him out of the building but he pulled away and refused,” he wrote.
Surveillance footage The News reviewed showed Jundy struggling with the officer, who tripped him to the floor.
The officer appeared to try to turn Jundy over to handcuff him but the Iraqi immigrant wouldn’t and eventually got on his knees.
The video showed the officer pull a yellow Taser from a holster, back away then grab Jundy, who was pointing at him. In the police report, the officer said he called for back-up and “drive stunned him with my taser in the shoulder” when Jundy grabbed his hand.
As several customers watched nearby, Jundy is filmed falling backward and striking his head on a counter.
He appeared to cry out in pain and hold his head before dropping. The officer appears to attempt to handcuff him again as he’s on his stomach but Jundy rolls away and moves to a wall.
The officer is seen walking over and tries to pull Jundy’s right arm, but he resists. The officer fires the Taser on Jundy’s right leg.
When the officer appears to try to turn Jundy around, the man slumps over, motionless. The lawsuit contends the action made him faint.
Jundy eventually was handcuffed before two other officers arrived. They tried to lift him off the ground, “but he was unable to stand and was in clear and obvious pain,” according to the filing.
The officer’s report noted police learned he had a heart condition. Jundy was transported to a hospital, where doctors determined he “suffered renal failure due to the use of the taser.”
He later had a stroke, Moughni said, and died in November 2019, about three months after his 59th birthday.
“Baha was an immigrant from Iraq, one who fled his country for the land of the free, where he no longer needed to fear oppression or physical abuse by those in authority,” Moughni said in his statement. “However, on the day in question, Baha had his American Dream crushed. He was brutally beaten to unconsciousness by those who have sworn to protect and serve him.”
Reached Monday night, Redford Township Supervisor Pat McCrae told The News: “The township does not comment on pending litigation.”
Township police could not be reached.
Their report on the encounter accused Jundy of obstructing police. The officer who used the Taser wrote that he “felt Baha was a danger to the public due to his paranoia thinking that the Redford Twp. DPS and PD was trying to deport him because according to him (Redford police, fire and public services officials) were all racist. Also I felt he was a danger to the DPS and public because he resisted arrest and refused to respond to commands.”
Jundy’s relatives believe the encounter triggered his death and the officer’s actions “were flagrant, willful, wanton and reckless, and displayed a high degree of moral culpability.”
The suit accuses the township, its police department and the officer involved of gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as violating Jundy’s Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
“As a consequent of Decedent’s Death, his wife and daughter suffered pain, grief, sorrow, anguish, stress, shock, and mental suffering already experienced and reasonably probable to be experienced for the rest of their lives,” the filing said.