‘Supposed to Protect Us, Not Harm Innocent People’: North Carolina Woman Hyperventilates, Vomits While Cops Forcibly Yank Her Out of Car; Accuses PD of Assault In Lawsuit

A North Carolina woman is suing a city, its police department and its officers for false imprisonment and negligence for an incident she said left her traumatized and bruised.

Ja’Lana Dunlap-Banks also accused Fayetteville Police Officer Ryan Haddock and Detective Amanda Bell of assault and battery. Video of the encounter shows Bell forcefully gripping Dunlap-Banks’ wrist in an effort to pull the woman from the vehicle.

“I really just want to speak up for people who can’t speak up for themselves,” said Dunlap-Banks at a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Ja’Lana Dunlap-Banks accused Fayetteville, North Carolina, police officers of assaulting her on Sept. 6, 2022. (Photos: YouTube Screen grab/WRAL)

“I just want to make it clear that you have to speak up for yourself. You have to demand respect. Whether they wear a badge or whether they’re just in regular clothes. And if you’re wearing that badge, if you’re wearing a uniform, then you’re supposed to protect us not harm innocent people.”

On Sept. 6, Dunlap-Banks was in an empty lot taking photos of the grounds for a property management company where she works. She paid for garbage pickup on the property and was taking pictures to show her boss.

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins, who is also named in the federal lawsuit, said the officers were pursuing a fugitive in the area and wanted to check to see if Dunlap-Banks was involved. She was released after the officers identified and cleared her.

Attorney Harry Daniels said the officers treated Dunlap-Banks aggressively because of her skin color.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, Oct. 25, argues that North Carolina is not a “stop and identify” state, so Dunlap-Banks was not required to show proof of identification and had already given officers her full name.

“She wasn’t required to do that. But she did. That wasn’t good enough,” Daniels said at Tuesday’s press conference. “They wanted identification. You know, some people say where I’m from a long time ago, they wanted to slave papers. You need to show who you are.”

The woman’s attorneys said the violent interaction triggered a sickle-cell crisis. Dunlap-Banks was so afraid for her life that she started hyperventilating and vomiting, it alleges. However, the officers would not give the woman room to vomit and continued “yanking” her upright, the lawsuit says.

A Cumberland County judge on Tuesday granted Hawkins’ request for permission to release body-worn camera footage of the incident. Dunlap-Banks captured one minute of the interaction on her cell phone. Both officers asked the woman multiple times to get out of the vehicle that attorneys said she had just sat back in without starting the ignition. Bell also asked Dunlap-Banks to show her identification card, which was visible in her transparent fanny pack across her waist.

“You’re not getting it because I haven’t did anything wrong,” she told the officers.

The lawsuit alleges that officers tried to pull the woman out of the car because they realized she was recording them. The video also shows that Bell eventually released Dunlap-Banks’ arm, allowing her to get out of the vehicle. Court documents allege the woman was “forcefully placed” in handcuffs and slammed against her vehicle.

Daniels said the woman filed a complaint with the police department two days later but never heard back, which drove her to pursue legal action.

The federal complaint accuses the city and its police of violating Dunlap-Banks’ First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments rights. It accuses the officers of retaliating against the woman’s freedom of speech with excessive force.

The lawsuit says the “illegal and prolonged restraint of” the woman in handcuffs “amounted to false imprisonment” under North Carolina law. In addition, officers fail to meet their duty of care, and the city and its police agency are negligent by failing to vet, train and supervise its officers properly.

Dunlap-Banks’ attorney Xavier Torres de Janon said the department has a reputation for police brutality against Black people. Fayetteville police officers shot and killed Jada Johnson on July 1 after she called 911 to report a home invasion. When police arrived on the scene, Johnson had a gun to her head. Police officials said Johnson was shot while they tried to disarm her.

Torres de Janon named Johnson and four other African-Americans harmed during encounters with the police agency.

“This is not an issue of a couple of bad apples because we’re seeing that the tree is rotting. We are seeing that the roots are rotten,” he said. “And so when we demand justice for Ms. Ja’Lana, we demand justice for these other people and for the other Black and brown people in Fayetteville who might suffer when they meet a police again and again and again.”

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