Second excessive force lawsuit since beginning of year is dismissed

Witness to a beating in 2016, Cassandra Harris was arrested instead of assailants

As police were interviewing the victim, who had already cleared Harris of any wrongdoing, the two stick-yielding women darted off.
  • As police were interviewing the victim, who had already cleared Harris of any wrongdoing, the two stick-yielding women darted off.

On April 17, 2017 attorneys for Cassandra Harris, 28, filed a motion to dismiss a claim of excessive force against the city of San Diego. The terms of how the case was resolved have not been made public; however, during an April 18 closed session hearing, city councilmembers were expected to give final approval.

Harris filed her lawsuit on October 30 of last year, nearly two years after she says police officers falsely accused her of a crime, doused her with pepper spray, and wrongly booked her into jail.

On November 29, 2014, Harris witnessed two women beating another woman up with large sticks. She remained at the scene when police officers arrived. As police were interviewing the victim, who had already cleared Harris of any wrongdoing, the two stick-yielding women darted off. Instead of pursuing after the assailants, officers arrested Harris. They handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a patrol car. Upset and emotional, Harris began pleading her case, stating that she was only a witness. Her pleas fell on deaf ears, frustrated she began to hit her head on the squad car's glass partition. She complained that her handcuffs were cutting the circulation off to her hands. Officers removed her from the car and, according to the October 2016 complaint, sprayed her in the eyes with pepper spray, later placing her in maximum restraints.

Upon her transfer to Las Colinas, corrections officers found she was medically unfit for booking. Officers were forced to take her to the hospital. Doctors later treated her for head injuries as well as nerve damage from the handcuffs. The city charged her with resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. Attorneys for the city dismissed the charges one day before her trial was set to begin.

Harris filed her lawsuit when the charges were dropped.

On April 17, the city and Harris' attorneys filed a joint motion to dismiss the case.

This is the second excessive force against the city in the past several months. The prior settlement (first reported by the Reader) finalized on April 7, involved the beating of a man who was entering his family's cell phone store in City Heights after hours. Officers assumed the man was breaking in. They followed him into the store and used force to detain him as well as his mother. The city paid $150,000 to settle that case

Attorneys for Harris did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. The story will be updated if/when a response is provided.

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Comments

If I were a resident and taxpayer in the city of SD, I'd be absolutely livid about these many incidents of cops and their behavior. As a resident of the county, it bothers me no end, and that may be why I avoid, to as great a degree as possible, even going into the city of SD. That PD is just out of control, and all the apologists in the world will not make me think otherwise. Is Kev-boy making any noises about the department? Other than echoing the old girl chief who complains that the department is short on sworn cops he's said little. Who would want to join such a force when there are others around that don't stink?

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