Legal experts weigh-in on Davenport police surveillance video - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Legal experts weigh-in on Davenport police surveillance video

Legal experts weigh-in on Davenport police surveillance video

Posted: Updated:
Courtesy KWQC Courtesy KWQC

Legal experts weigh-in on the civil lawsuit against the Davenport Police Department.

Surveillance video from February shows an officer hitting a shoplifter in Davenport’s North Park Mall.

Brandie Redell was taken into the back room for questioning after she shoplifted, a crime she has since pleaded guilty to in court and will be sentenced later this month. Once in this room, the officer is seen hitting Redell several times.

“I fell from the chair a little bit and went to the ground face first and he was rubbing my face in the carpet,” Redell said told KWQC. ”Telling me, ‘this is not going to happen like this, I'm in charge here’.”

“I know there's strong reactions, but like so many videos you're getting out there, you're getting a snap shot of what occurred,” Davenport Police Chief Frank Donchez said. “The officer was bit. There were charges of assault on the officer. He received hospital treatment for bite wounds.”

Both Redell and the officer were taken to the hospital for injuries, and now Redell plans to sue in federal court.

After an internal investigation, that officer is still working. The Scott County Attorney has also decided that there is "insufficient evidence to criminally charge the officer.

Legal experts say there are many factors to consider in this case.

“The issue is whether or not the force that he used was reasonable” Attorney Michael McCarthy said.

McCarthy has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including work for the American Civil Liberties Union. McCarthy won a 1991 case on police brutality against a Davenport Police Corporal.

After seeing the Davenport mall surveillance video, he said, ”They have a case, it's clear that there was an arrest, there was an injury and the issue then is… was the injury excessive?”

McCarthy says that depends on many factors leading up to the incident.

“This woman is obviously resisting arrest, she's loud, she's abusive. She's resisting after she was cuffed, so they have the right to use reasonable force…That's for someone else to determine whether or not it was reasonable.” McCarthy said.

McCarthy also says Redell's criminal history could play a role in how much the city has to pay up in damages-- if any.

“Unfortunately for her, she's not a sympathetic plaintiff,” McCarthy said. “It comes down to this, is the jury going to say, alright we're going to reward her for misbehavior, for essentially provoking this thing.”

Kimberly Dodson has worked in law enforcement for 15 years. She has a doctorate in criminal justice and teaches civil liabilities classes at the law enforcement and justice administration program at WIU.

“I would say yes, the officer crossed a line,” Dodson said. “I think there's little room for doubt that the officer acted excessively.”

But in her experience, it's not always an easy call to make.

“Because you're trying to subdue the individual, you… may use more force than necessary… but that's really a judgment call, it's a split second call.”

Another factor that may play a part is any audio from the incident.

“There may have been additional verbal cues he was picking up on that we're not privy to,” Dodson said.

Dodson also says witnesses may be a factor as well.

“I feel they get dangerously close to the one year old”.

Powered by Frankly