A South Carolina man filed a lawsuit against the Rock Hill Police Department on Monday, Dec. 21, alleging he was embarrassed and feared for his life when he was detained naked and held at gunpoint outside of his home while officers searched for teenage carjacking suspects.
Jethro DeVane, 71, was forced by Officer Vincent Mentesana to stand outside of his Rock Hill home naked after 4 a.m. after he peeked outside to check on the commotion as police searched four teenage carjacking suspects in the early morning hours of June 3, 2019.
DeVane said he was asleep in his home when he was awoken by bright lights shining through the windows.
Body camera footage of the incident shows Mentesana ordering DeVane to step outside of his home and not to close the door, after he peeked his head out.
“Don’t f-cking shut that door,” Mentesana said. “Get out.”
“I live here,” DeVane replied.
DeVane was forced to stand naked, facing a wall in the presence of several officers while police investigated. Mentesana held a gun pointed at DeVane’s head for 90 seconds while officers searched the home.
When DeVane asked Mentesana what was going on, the officer replied, “I don’t want to talk to you.”
“I didn’t have my clothes on that night. Why? I’m in my house,” DeVane said at a press conference Tuesday.
Police did not have a warrant to search the home. The suit filed Monday claims gross negligence, emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Police said in a 2019 statement that officers thought the suspects may have run into the home, and the cops wanted to make sure no one was being harmed when they encountered DeVane in the doorway.
“The officers observed the grass to be uncut, a swimming pool unmaintained, and the door of the residence standing completely open. There were no lights on inside the residence or outside the residence. Officers believed the residence to be unoccupied,” police said in a statement.
DeVane said he was embarrassed because one of the officers was a woman, but he feared he would be shot if he tried to grab any clothes.
After sweeping the residence and confirming DeVane’s identity, he was releaed.
“I did what the man said. He had the weapon. He could have took my life in a minute,” DeVane said at a news conference Tuesday with a lawyer.
DeVane said the police chief came to his home later on in June and told him he probably shouldn’t sleep naked.
DeVane attorney Justin Bamberg said his client filed a complaint against Rock Hill shortly after the incident in 2019 but it was dismissed. DeVane is seeking a public apology from the Rock Hill mayor and police chief, and additional training for officers. The suit does not request a specific dollar amount.
The Rock Hill Police Department declined to comment on the pending litigation.