Taylor police face lawsuit alleging excessive force against Black motorist

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A federal lawsuit alleging excessive force was filed Friday on behalf of a Black motorist and his girlfriend against the city of Taylor and five of its police officers.

Imani Ringgold-D'Abell and his girlfriend, La'Shanna Taylor sued the city and police officers Jeffrey Adamisin, Nicholas Sellitti, Anthony Paredes, Thomas Haverlock and James Pilchak in U.S. District Court. 

City of Taylor spokesperson Karl Ziomek declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Ringgold-D'Abell was pulled over as he drove his SUV on Sept. 13, 2019 with Taylor and the couple's three-year-old daughter, who was in the backseat, on the way to a dentist appointment for the child, according to the lawsuit.

He had recently moved from Illinois to Michigan to be closer to Taylor’s family, according to the lawsuit, and had recently purchased a used Audi SUV and received a temporary registration permit that was valid for 90 days, through Sept. 27, 2019.

Additionally, Ringgold-D'Abell had lost his driver’s license and was carrying a temporary paper Illinois driver’s license as well as a picture of the license he lost on his cell phone, according to the lawsuit.

When Adamisin stopped the SUV the “flimsy temporary tag that had been hanging where the permanent license plate would soon go had been swept away in a car wash,” his attorneys wrote in the lawsuit, adding that Ringgold-D'Abell had paperwork with his Illinois license plate number.

The suit alleges Adamisin stopped Ringgold-D'Abell, now a Wisconsin resident, because of a missing license plate tag. Ringgold-D'Abell showed Adamisin the photo of his driver's license and explained he was awaiting his new permanent license, that his car was registered and that the temporary license plate tag had become damaged during a car wash, the suit claims.

Adamisin, according to the suit, did not ask to see the paper copy of Ringgold-D'Abell driver's license and returned to his patrol vehicle and called for backup. Four officers, Sellitti, Paredes, Haverlock and Pilchak arrived and Adamisin decided to arrest Ringgold-D'Abell "even after the officer had already confirmed" what Ringgold-D'Abell had told him. 

During the arrest initiated by Paredes for not having identification, according to the lawsuit, Ringgold-D'Abell was "encircled" by the five police officers and "tased multiple times and suffered blows to his body including an officer's punches to his stomach while another held his torso in place."

Taylor, who is from Michigan, stepped from the vehicle to ask what was happening to Ringgold-D'Abell and was pushed by an officer.

Ringgold-D'Abell was arrested and faces charges of speeding, lacking proof of insurance, a registration or plate violation, failing to display a valid license and interfering with police authority. Taylor was initially detained, according to the suit, while the young girl was left alone in the backseat of the SUV, but eventually released, the suit claims.

The lawsuit, filed by the Northville attorneys Sarah Prescott and Julie Porter, based in Evanston, Illinois, alleges that a Wayne County prosecutor offered to dismiss criminal charges against Ringgold-D'Abell if he agreed to release civil claims relating to his complaint against the city and the officers.

Ringgold-D'Abell declined the offer, according to the lawsuit. The law firm refused Friday to answer questions or provide the name of the prosecutor accused of making the offer.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller, spokesperson for Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said "our office has no record of any involvement in the matter listed on page 17 of the pleading. We believe the plaintiff's lawyers are mistaken. They mention that a citation was given. Those are typically handled by a city attorney for the municipality not the prosecutor's office."

A Taylor police officer was recently charged in connection with the assault of a man after he was dispatched to a reported domestic disturbance, Worthy announced last month.

Taylor police officer Tyler Peake, 23, has been charged with assaulting Brendan Morgan on April 1, 2020, after police were sent to the scene of a reported domestic disturbance involving Morgan and a 34-year-old female, reportedly his girlfriend. Wayne County prosecutors charged Peake, who is suspended, with misconduct in office, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and assault and battery, a 93-day misdemeanor. 

In another federal lawsuit filed in 2018 against Taylor police by Taylor resident Cody Meredith, officers are accused of using excessive force and attacking him after he failed to use a turn signal to turn into his own driveway, according to the lawsuit filed by attorneys Amir Makled and Cyril Hall.

Former Police Chief Mary Sclabassi, who has since left the department, and police officers Brian Wojtowics, Christian Schnell, Ricky Barnosky and Sgt. Nicolas Hill are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.