COLDWATER, Mich. – A woman alleges police in southern Michigan slammed her onto the ground and knocked her unconscious while handcuffed at a jail in an incident captured on video.
Tiffany McNeil filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court alleging Coldwater police used excessive force in the encounter in a secure entrance at the Branch County Jail, where she was taken after a domestic dispute. Police reports say that McNeil was resisting arrest and moved toward an officer, who then took her down. But the lawsuit says surveillance video shows police lied.
The video shows an officer holding McNeil with her face pressed against a wall. At one point, the officer appears to pull her from the wall and throw her, face-first, on the ground as other officers stand nearby. When the officer lifts up McNeil's head, blood can be seen on her head and on the ground. McNeil then lays motionless as officers attend to her wound.
Police reports say McNeil refused to remain standing and "used her weight to push herself off the wall with her chest and turned toward" an officer, forcing him to take her down, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that police lied about what happened.
McNeil received 17 stitches and suffered a concussion, according to her attorney, Solomon Radner.
"It was absolutely egregious, disgusting, thug-like conduct," Radner said. "You don't expect that from police officers, and it shouldn't be tolerated."
Coldwater City Manager Keith Baker said he was familiar with McNeil's encounter with police and believes the officers acted appropriately. He said officials are reviewing the lawsuit.
McNeil had been drinking on July 24 when her husband called police during an argument, leading to her arrest, according to the lawsuit. She had a blood alcohol level of .21, according to police.
McNeil was charged with domestic violence and a felony charge for resisting a police officer. She pleaded no contest to the domestic violence charge and officials dropped the felony charge, Radner said.
McNeil said she can't remember what happened at the jail.
"I had no clue and nobody could tell me — or would tell me," McNeil said.