Lawsuit claims Del. State Police used excessive force against disabled couple

WILMINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware announced Monday it had filed a federal lawsuit against the Delaware State Police over alleged excessive use of force against bystanders during the execution of a search warrant last year.

According to the ACLU, a Rehoboth Beach couple was allegedly subjected to excessive force during a police search on June 29, 2014, at a house where two other people were suspected of drug possession.

The ACLU claimed that Ruther and Lisa Hayes were detained and tormented by state police officers after two suspects were apprehended and the scene was secured. The suit noted that Ms. Hayes is a quadriplegic and Mr. Hayes a disabled veteran who suffers from schizophrenia.

“Officers intentionally failed to accommodate Mrs. Hayes’ disability, and attacked and unlawfully arrested Mr. Hayes, leaving him to walk 20 miles back to Claymont from the DSP barracks in Newark,” the news release stated.
Citing policy, Delaware State Police declined comment Monday.

“As with any lawsuit filing, we would not be able to discuss its specifics or details due to the pending litigation,” spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said.

Mr. Adams was initially charged with a resisting arrest count that was later dropped, the suit said.

According to the ACLU, the state’s Special Operations Response Team searched the Claymont home of Mrs. Hayes’ 82-year-old mother, who the couple was visiting along with their two pre-teen children.

“The use of excessive force on Mr. and Mrs. Hayes is unconscionable,” said Richard Morse, ACLU of Delaware legal director. “The officers on the scene knew that Mrs. Hayes was severely disabled, yet they held her at gunpoint and ordered her to stand up.

“Mr. Hayes offered the officers nothing but respect and reason, yet they beat and Tased him, falsely arrested him, and made him walk 20 miles to return to his family after he was released.”

The ACLU said it is seeking “fair compensation for the victims,”, along with “the creation of new DSP policies and procedures — such as training, counseling, and adequate officer supervision—to provide for robust and proper internal affairs investigations, as well as discipline, training and counseling deemed necessary to prevent further instances of excessive force, improper use of Tasers, discrimination against disabled persons and other police misconduct.

“Further, the suit seeks an enforcement mechanism that will allow the public to determine whether appropriate remedial measures have been taken.”

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