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Federal lawsuit filed against city of Dearborn, police department

Bodycam footage captures 22-year-old father assaulted after asking for directions

DEARBORN, Mich. – A federal lawsuit was filed after a local father said he asked for directions from a police officer and was assaulted.

The lawsuit claims excessive force was used by a Dearborn Police officer.

Court documents claim Luther Gonzalez-Hall, 22, asked Dearborn Police officer Marvin Sanders for directions and the interaction ended with the officer assaulting and choking Gonzalez-Hall.

Gonzalez-Hall said it happened on Telegraph Road in November 2018.

“I was leaving my girlfriend’s house and was on my bike,” Gonzalez-Hall recalled. “And I asked for directions and I was being real nice about it, but he wasn’t being the nicest.”

Gonzalez-Hall said he went into a nearby White Castle restaurant after speaking with Sanders.

“He wasn’t being nice, so I went into the White Castle and they were being real nice to me,” Gonzalez-Hall said.

Police bodycam footage captured Sanders follow him into the restaurant, where he repeatedly asked why Gonzalez-Hall went into the White Castle after he gave him directions.

When Gonzalez-Hall left the restaurant, bodycam footage captured Sanders push him.

“What did I do?” Gonzalez-Hall repeatedly asked.

At one point during the confrontation, Sanders’ bodycam falls to the ground. Gonzalez-Hall runs and he is quickly caught. Another officer’s bodycam captured the moment Gonzalez-Hall is handcuffed in the grass.

You can watch the full bodycam footage in the video player below. Warning: The video contains profanity.

Officers walked him to a police cruiser and put the young father inside.

“It was mind-blowing, crazy,” Gonzalez-Hall recalled. “I didn’t believe that it was real.”

Now Gonzalez-Hall is suing Sanders, the city of Dearborn and the Dearborn Police Department for the way he was treated.

“We saw the video’s in this case and there is absolutely no justification for what happened to Luther,” said Azzam Elder, Esq. “He was badly beat-up, and he does have a bad broken foot and he is going to have to have surgery now. All because he asked for directions.”

Why did Gonzalez-Hall run after the officer had him on the ground the first time?

“I couldn’t breathe. He was choking me,” Gonzalez-Hall said. “I tried to get away from him. He still followed me and I feared for my life.”

The Dearborn Police Department declined to comment and said it won’t speak on pending litigation.

“I can’t even play with my kids for a long period of time. I got to take a break because my foot hurts,” Gonzalez-Hall said. “I can’t go to work because my foot hurts. I have to sit down because my foot swells-up like a freaking balloon.”

As for the charges against Gonzalez-Hall?

“We were able to coordinate and got the city, or strongly urged the city, to dismiss the charges or else I would add another count of malicious prosecution,” Elder said. “The city finally dismissed them.”

“Seemed like he was having a bad day and took it out on me,” Gonzalez-Hall said. “I do have nightmares of them beating me up and stuff. It’s traumatizing.”

In the lawsuit, the city of Dearborn is also named for its inadequate training of its officers, as well as its failure to adequately discipline its officers and encouraging a blue code of silence where police officers do not report other officers’ errors or misconduct.

When Local 4 asked about the status of officer Sanders, the Dearborn Police Department immediately asked the Defenders to submit a Freedom of Information Act request.

Local 4 is expected a response back within a few days.

You can watch the full bodycam footage in the video player below. Warning: The video contains profanity.


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