Mom files lawsuit against City of Lakewood, says officer attacked teen at library

Posted at 1:58 PM, Jun 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 15:06:19-04

A Lakewood mother filed a civil complaint this week on behalf of her children regarding an incident involving a police officer allegedly using excessive force against her teenage daughter at the Lakewood Public Library's Madison Branch in November 2016.

The complaint, filed by Subodh Chandra, Ashlie Case Sletvold, and Marvin C. Brown IV of The Chandra Law
Firm LLC, alleges that the officer's actions resulted in the girl suffering a broken jaw and severe emotional distress.

Surveillance video and body camera captured the incident. Watch the video in the media player above.

According to the complaint, the teenager, who was 17 at the time, was sitting with her 11-year-old brother inside the children's room of the library listening to music with headphones when officer Kevin Jones, who was working in a secondary employment capacity at the branch, asked her to turn down her music. 

She turned it down but Officer Jones asked her to turn it down once more, the complaint states. 

Minutes later, the girl's phone rang and Officer Jones told her to "shut the f*** up," according to the complaint. The girl and her brother then moved to the adult section of the library because they felt "uncomfortable."

In the surveillance video, you can see the officer walk over to the pair. According to the complaint, Officer Jones was telling the girl to take her feet off a chair.

There is no audio attached to the surveillance video and the beginning of the body camera footage also does not have audio. According to the victims' attorneys, that's the way they received the video from the police department. 

The video then shows the two exchange words for about a minute. According to the complaint, the officer asked the teen to leave. When she stood up, video shows the officer grab her by the arm and force her toward the exit. 

The City of Lakewood mayor's office described the incident with the following statement: 

The officer advised the female she would have to leave the library due to the rules violations.  The officer took hold of the female and began escorting her to the front door.  The officer took hold of the female by the arm and back of the neck and they fell to the ground.  The officer then put the female in a full nelson type hold and began taking her out of the building.  They fell again to the ground with the officer falling on top of the female.  The female sustained an injury to her mouth as a result of the fall.  

The teen was dragged outside and left on the library's front steps, according to the complaint document. The family also alleges that responding officers failed to provide first aid in a timely matter.

After the incident, the officer was placed on administrative leave and prohibited from working off-duty employment. According to the City of Lakewood, a hearing was conducted on Dec. 19 and Officer Jones was brought up on administrative charges of unreasonable and unwarranted force, bringing discredit to the Lakewood Police Department and not activating his body worn camera at the appropriate time.

Following the finding of improper conduct for three violations of the Lakewood Police Department Standards of Conduct, the following discipline was imposed:

  • 40-hour suspension without pay
  • Denial to work off-duty employment at Lakewood Public Library
  • Referred to employee assistance program and attend additional training

News 5 obtained Officer Kevin Jones' employee personnel file on Wednesday. 

A hearing was held on December 19 following the incident. At the hearing, Jones was given a chance to respond to the charges. According to his personnel file, he stated he had seen the videos and commented that "they don't look good without the audio."

Jones reported things could have been handled differently.

Detective Dave Kappa who attended the hearing said he has worked with Officer Jones since 2013 and had never seen him use unnecessary force prior to this incident. Kappa said Jones' actions were "out of character."

During the hearing, the police department discussed different ways the situation could've been handled to de-escalate the matter. they also discussed the reporting issues and the activation of the body worn camera.

Officer Jones understood that he did not turn on his body camera prior to escorting the teen from the library, according to the file. He also said the use of profanity as reported did not happen.

The city said in a statement: 

When employees act outside of their training and responsibilities they are held accountable. The Lakewood Police Department trains their employees to de-escalate encounters and to only use force when reasonable and required. The city will be responding more fully to the complaint as part of the court process. 

However, the victims' attorney told News 5 that suspension wasn't enough for the family. 

"That that would result in a suspension as opposed to total termination of employment is, to the Robinson family's thinking, completely outrageous and upsurd," said Chandra.