On July 7, 2012, Indiana police came into the home of an 18-year-old high school student, DeShawn Franklin without a warrant, woke him up from his sleep with punches, tasered and dragged him outside his home. He was then handcuffed and stuffed into a patrol car, as he was told by the cops that he was under arrest.
Franklin required knowing the reason why the police had handcuffed and placed him under arrest. A South Bend police officer told Franklin that he matched the description of a suspect they were looking for. The suspect and Franklin had the same hairstyle, dreadlocks.
It wasn’t until after Franklin argued that he had not committed any crime and his hairstyle was a very common one among young Black men, that the police realized that they had apprehended the wrong person. The officers released him and apologized.
It turned out that the suspect the cops were looking for was Franklin’s brother, Dan Franklin, who was believed to have committed a crime of domestic abuse. However, Dan Franklin has not been arrested or charged with that crime till date.
Franklin filed a lawsuit over the unpleasant incident, persisting in taking the case to trial after he rejected several settlements. He accused the officers of excessive force, unlawful entry, false arrest, and battery. Although a federal jury agreed with him that the cops violated his Fourth Amendment rights, they decided that those violations were worth $1 in damages. Franklin and his family were told to pay $1500 for legal expenses to the police officers, which include mileage and hotel room because the trial was held in another city. A city spokesman said officers were disciplined with written reprimands and they were also ordered to go through training on Fourth Amendment rights.
Police and jury will always find a way to humiliate Black people. Maybe it would have been better not to pay anything than to pay $1 for damages. And after that, they dared to ask the victim’s family to pay for the officers’ legal expenses. Is this the kind of justice Blacks will continue to get? This doesn’t bode well for our Justice system.