Black couple sues Taylor police after violent encounter over a ‘paperwork snafu’

click to enlarge Taylor police repeatedly tased Imani Ringgold-D’Abell in front of his daughter following a traffic stop. - Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter LLC
Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter LLC
Taylor police repeatedly tased Imani Ringgold-D’Abell in front of his daughter following a traffic stop.

A Black couple filed a federal lawsuit against the Taylor Police Department on Friday, alleging cops assaulted them during a traffic stop in front of their terrified 3-year-old daughter and then joked about the violent encounter.

It’s just the latest lawsuit filed against Taylor cops for alleged civil rights abuses.

According to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, Imani Ringgold-D’Abell and his girlfriend La’Shanna Taylor were driving their daughter to a dentist’s appointment on Sept. 13, 2019, when a Taylor cop pulled them over for a missing license plate. Ringgold-D’Abell explained that the temporary license plate fell off at a car wash and offered to show him the paperwork.

When Lt. Jeffrey Adamisin asked for Ringgold-D’Abell’s driver’s license, he handed over a temporary but valid ID. Without an explanation, Adamisin called for backup, and four more officers arrived.

What happened next was caught on bodycam video.

Even though Ringgold-D'Abell had a valid temporary ID, police decided to arrest him for not carrying a permanent one. Officers then pulled him from the car, and claiming he was resisting, Tased him repeatedly, including once while he was pinned face-down to the ground. Officer Nicholas Sellitti repeatedly punched Ringgold-D'Abell in the stomach while another officer held him by the torso.

“What followed was Mr. Ringgold-D’Abell — on the ground and far outnumbered by the Defendant Officers who stood over him — continuing to be tased as he did nothing but attempt to obey the officers’ commands,” the couple’s lawyers, with Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter LLC, wrote in the lawsuit.

When Taylor got out of the car to urge police to stop using force in front of their child, “officers aggressively pushed her back to the passenger seat with needless force and painfully restrained her arms” before placing her in the back of a police car “while her daughter remained in the vehicle alone,” according to the lawsuit.

“Plaintiff’s young daughter had spent ten minutes in the family car alone, witnessing her father being beaten and electrocuted and her mother handcuffed, sobbing and crying out for her,” the lawsuit states.

When one of the officers asked, “What’s her problem,” Officer Thomas Haverlock responded dismissively, “We were being mean to her boyfriend.”

“Glancing around at the elegant houses lining the quiet street in which a Black man had just been pulled over, beaten and tased for lacking a plastic copy of his valid driver’s license, an officer lamented, ‘It’s too bad. It’s a nice neighborhood,’” the lawsuit states.

One of the officers complained that the altercation may have ruined his tattoo, while another “bemoaned the fact that he was going to need two new cartridges for his taser gun,” the suit continues.

When officers found boxes of candy in the back of the car, one of them asked Ringgold-D’Abell if he was running “a candy smuggling ring.” Ringgold-D’Abell responded that the candy was for his daughter’s fundraiser.

Before the arrest, Adamisin said he was surprised Ringgold-D’Abell didn’t lie to him, and Officer James Pilchak agreed and said he was shocked the driver owned an Audi.

“I’m guessing he’s suspended,” Pilchak responded, incorrectly.

Ringgold-D’Abell was arrested and charged with traffic violations and a misdemeanor offense of interference with police authority. He spent three days in jail before bonding out.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office offered to drop the criminal charges if Ringgold-D’Abell agreed not to file a lawsuit against the police, according to the suit.

Ringgold-D’Abell declined, and his criminal case remains active.

“Mr. Ringgold-D’Abell experienced excruciating physical pain during and after the assault,” the lawsuit states. “The encounter left him in a neck brace with bruising and scabs on his face where his skin was scraped against the concrete, pain in his upper back and neck from the contorted positions in which the Defendant Officers held him, and bleeding from holes in his body where the taser probes had entered to deliver the shock.”

The daughter cried for days “after witnessing the assault on her parents,” according to the lawsuit.

Ringgold-D’Abell is receiving mental health treatment for the trauma, and he was forced to move in with his father because his car was impounded.

The couple is suing for excessive force, Fourth Amendment violations, assault and battery, false arrest, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit lists seven encounters in which Taylor cops are accused of assaulting suspects, most of whom are Black, since 2014. In most cases, police forcibly removed drivers from their cars and beat them.

In April 2020, seven Taylor cops punched and tased a Black driver, and one officer was caught on camera saying, “Welcome to Taylor.”

“The Taylor Police Department’s officers — including many of those involved in the assaults against Plaintiffs — have routinely used excessive force in the past, particularly against people of color," the suit states. “Yet the City of Taylor has a custom of acquiescing to this practice and failed adequately to train and supervise its officers on the constitutional use of force.”

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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