A Huber Heights woman is suing a police officer and the city for excessive force and brutality a year after she was pinned to a squad car and handcuffed after a traffic stop.
Marcia Laning, 63, and her husband sued Huber Heights police officer Brian M. Doyle, police Chief Robert Schommer and the city in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.
“This is a grievous, excessive use of force,” said Wayne Stephan, Laning’s attorney. “The reaction from that officer to a non-threatening traffic offender — which is what he, I guess, presumed her to be at that point in time — was really, really excessive.”
Schommer said he would not comment on pending litigation and referred to Huber Heights’ city attorneys. Schommer said Huber Heights prosecutor Robert B. Coughlin was on vacation and unavailable to comment. Assistant law director Gerald McDonald did not return a message seeking comment.
Schommer said he considers the lawsuit a complaint and that all complaints against police officers are investigated.
A dash-cam recording of the Jan. 3, 2013 afternoon incident obtained by the Dayton Daily News shows Doyle pulled Laning over for what he termed a marked lane violation. Laning pulled into the parking lot where she works and backed her vehicle into a spot.
Laning didn’t immediately comply with Doyle’s commands and he pulled his Taser and threatened to fire it at her. Later, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound officer twice pinned the 5-foot-2, 140-pound Laning against his squad car.
The video shows the officer asking Laning to put her hands behind her back. When she said, “Just a minute,” Doyle responded by saying: “No, not just a minute. Do it right now or you’re going to be Tased.”
As she was pinned against the hood of the police vehicle, Laning said, “I didn’t do anything.” As Laning is crying, Doyle asks, “What is your deal?” and later adds, “This lady is freaking nuts.”
After he placed Laning in his squad car, Doyle tells other officers his knee hurts because he hit it on his cruiser “when I planted her on the hood.”
Another officer asked Doyle, “You body-slammed an old lady?” and he replied, “Yeah, she’s like what do you want with me and I’m like, ‘You about frickin’ ran somebody over.”
Doyle asked Laning if she’d been drinking and the conversation continued in a contentious fashion. After initially asking Laning if someone could come and pick up her dog, he had the animal taken into custody of the Montgomery County Animal Control Agency and had her vehicle towed.
The lawsuit states Laning was detained in the cruiser and the Montgomery County Jail for a total of about 12 hours.
“In the course of performing an arrest for a routine traffic violation, Doyle threatened her life by pointing his department issued Taser at her,” the lawsuit states.
Doyle filed charges of resisting arrest and failure to comply with the order of a police officer to the traffic violation. Before it got to trial, Coughlin dismissed the most serious two charges.
During the criminal trial, a judge dismissed the marked lanes violation, finding that the prosecution did not prove the offense. The lawsuit states Laning’s attorney fees and trial costs exceeded $3,500.
Laning’s civil lawsuit seeks damages and attorney fees in excess of $25,000.
In his report, Doyle wrote that after Laning put her dog in her vehicle but did not comply with his command to walk backwards toward him, “I was concerned of her mental state or state of intoxication, as she was not behaving in a reasonable manner.
A Dayton Daily News inspection of Doyle’s personnel records indicates he’s had mostly positive performance evaluations, with a few exceptions.
Doyle, whose file shows extensive training in a number of areas of law enforcement, has been commended multiple times. Among others, he’s been recognized for his teamwork, compassion, helping save the lives of people in a duplex fire and for aiding Fairborn in an investigation.
Doyle, assigned to the investigative section about six months after the Laning incident, was cited by his superiors for mostly minor errors in judgment. “Officer Doyle gets along well with those he works (with) and the public but he can become argumentative with the public,” one evaluation said.
In May 2007, Doyle was given a letter of counseling – the lowest level of discipline available – for his lack of professionalism while citing a citizen for a traffic violation.
Doyle’s personnel file did not include any disciplinary action stemming from the traffic stop involving Laning.
By Mark Gokavi - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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