In July 2014, Michigan resident James King was severely beaten by officers after being mistaken for a fugitive. Adding insult to injury, he was then charged with numerous felonies. He recently filed suit in U.S. District Court for Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations to get “some sort of justice” from the horrific incident.
A detective and FBI agent in Grand Rapids arrested then-college student James King as he was walking to his summer job at a science education non-profit. King did not notice the officers’ badges and at first thought he was being mugged when the FBI agent took his wallet. Thus, King tried to flee, and the officers pursued him. One detective put King in a choke hold that rendered him unconscious. The officers admitted that they did not tell King they were members of law enforcement. They allegedly tried to arrest King after he told them he had no ID, despite carrying a wallet.
When King became conscious, he bit one officer’s arm to try to escape. The officer then began beating King’s head and face “as hard as [he] could,” court records indicated. Bystanders witnessing the beating called 911. According to the complaint, the officer who thereafter arrived convinced two bystanders who had been filming the incident to erase the videos from their phones. The officer reasoned that deleting the photos and videos was for the “safety” of the undercover officers. King’s mug shot reveals a battered face with one eye swollen shut. Another photo taken days after the injury reveals the whites of his eyes turned black and red.
Making matters worse, King was charged with assault of a police officer, assault of a police officer causing injury, and assault with a dangerous weapon (the “dangerous weapon” being the handcuffs on one of his wrists when he tried to run away). Following a jury trial, King was acquitted of all charges.
According to King’s attorney, his client has dropped out of school at Grand Valley State University. “This incident derailed his life,” he said. Instead of apologizing, the police charged him with three felonies. While King was acquitted, his family spent their life savings to fund the legal expenses. King moreover suffered physical and psychological injuries, lost wages, and decreased future earning potential.
The Detroit FBI office refused to comment on the pending suit. The prosecutor also declined to respond to journalists’ requests for comment.
The fugitive task force allegedly thought James King, who is now 23, vaguely resembled a description of a home invasion suspect. According to court records, the actual perpetrator, Aaron Davidson, is currently serving a 15-year sentence for second-degree home invasion.
Personal injury lawyer Kelly Neumann at the Neumann Law Group represents victims of accidents throughout Michigan from offices in Traverse City and Grand Rapids. Call us at (231) 463-0122 or at (616) 717-5666 for a free consultation.
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