A grocery delivery driver is suing an Ohio police department for $30 million, accusing officers of putting her in a chokehold and throwing her to the ground after a traffic stop.
According to a lawsuit complaint, Caitlin Taylor is suing the Sylvania Township Police Department and two of its officers for assault, battery, disenfranchisement and negligence after she was allegedly “mistreated” after being pulled over for expired tags. in June 2022.
Taylor was delivering groceries when he got lost and pulled into a garage while looking for his delivery destination — while his car was being silently followed by Officer John Tanner, the lawsuit claims.
According to the complaint, Taylor, a Michigan resident, was driving with an expired registration plate, an offense that was not being enforced in her home state because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Taylor was backing into the driveway, Tanner allegedly drew his firearm and knelt behind the police car door with the dome lights on, according to the complaint.
According to camera footage obtained by HuffPost, Tanner shouted several commands at Taylor, including demanding that she turn off the vehicle and throw her keys out the window, while threatening to arrest her and use a Taser on her.
“When I noticed him he opened the door and turned on the light and got up and knelt behind the door with his gun and I was very surprised by that and that’s when he started screaming with his demands and I just wanted to know what was going on because I was so confused why he was pointing a gun at me,” Taylor told Toledo TV station WTVG in an interview.
Tanner allegedly switched to his Taser and called for backup, then ordered Taylor out of his vehicle and tried to restrain her without saying why she was being stopped or detained, according to the complaint.
“Without any explanation, the perpetrator was then attacked, grabbed, manhandled, rotated around and thrown to the ground, all by Officer Tanner,” the complaint reads. “Officer Tanner had her in a body restraint that was apparently intended to cut off her ability to move, as he threw her to the ground and into the vehicle.”
According to the lawsuit, the fight continued when official Michael Wyatt arrived and allegedly put Taylor in a chokehold, then Tanner allegedly “threw himself” on top of her.
“I was in the backseat of the police car for a while, and I still didn’t know why, and I kept asking him ‘Why am I back here?’ and all he could say to me was ‘For obstructing and resisting’. When I asked again, ‘Can you tell me why you stopped me?’ he said, ‘You’ll have your day in court,'” Taylor told WTVG.
After being restrained, the lawsuit says, her rights were read and held for hours. During that time, three more officers arrived to search his vehicle, according to the file.
According to court records, Sylvania Township is seeking to remove the police department from the lawsuit, arguing that it cannot be held accountable. The Sylvania Township Police Department did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Anthony Richardson, the attorney representing Taylor, told HuffPost that she was originally arrested on charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, which were later dismissed.
He added that she deserved to be told why she was being accosted and had the right to resist unlawful arrest.
“In fact, it appears that the officers not only forgot to show care for her rights, but also forgot that she was a human being who deserved to be treated with dignity,” Richardson said. “At all times, the officers acted under the guise of the law, and the mental and emotional damage they caused, without legal justification for doing so, will be long or lasting for Ms. Taylor and her family.”
According to the lawsuit, Taylor went to a hospital after police released her, adding that she had multiple bruises all over her body and was bleeding as a result of tight handcuffs.
Traumatized, Taylor quit her grocery delivery job in fear that someone would call the police and report her as a suspicious person for being lost, according to the lawsuit.
In a statement to HuffPost, the Taylor family said the officers’ actions were catastrophic to Taylor’s well-being because of the abuse she suffered as a child.
“They made Caitlin relive horrible and disturbing emotions, feelings and memories and her attack adding more layers to her enduring trauma,” the family said. “Her past experience with abuse must now be shared with the world, which until now has been kept out of public scrutiny.”
In the statement, the family also highlighted their unwavering support for law enforcement, thanking the other supportive officers who insisted on allowing Taylor to finish his delivery and loosening the handcuffs on his wrists.
“We believe that most officers are faithful to the law. However, we have a duty to hold accountable those officers who believe they can and choose to act above the law because of their rank, title or uniform,” the statement said. “We ask all law enforcement officials to remain true to the oath they took and their passion to protect the peace.”