LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A federal lawsuit claims two Franklin County sheriff's deputies used excessive and unnecessary force when they pulled two women out of a car that was involved in a pursuit.
The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, claims Deputy Phillip Ray used excessive force when he removed Hannah Clark and Maysia Harris from a vehicle that had been the subject of a pursuit because of erratic driving.
According to a police narrative of the incident, Sgt. Nathan Doty attempted to pull over a car on Sept. 20, 2020, that was driving erratically. The driver of the car, Delano Washington, led deputies on a pursuit that lasted several minutes before eventually stopping.
Dashboard camera video from a sheriff's deputy car shows Washington immediately get out of his car and lay face down on the ground. An unidentified officer from the Frankfort Police Department is seen placing handcuffs on Washington. That's when, according to the suit, Doty runs up and knees him in the head while assisting the Frankfort officer.
Video then shows Ray pull Clark and Harris from the backseat of the vehicle and throw them on the ground.
"Reaching into the backseat, grabbing these women and slinging them, pulling them out of the car and slinging them to the ground," said attorney Greg Belzley, who is representing Clark and Harris. "A guy that handled women like this in a domestic violence context would be charged with assault and battery and justifiably so."
Washington was charged with careless driving, wanton endangerment possession of marijuana, criminal mischief and unlawful imprisonment.
The lawsuit states that the two women tried to get the driver to pull over and let them out when the chase began but he refused.
Video shows at least one of the women holding her hands out of the window of the car prior to Ray dragging her out. She was diagnosed with a concussion, according to Belzley.
"The force was obviously excessive. It was totally unnecessary," he said. "Both of these backseat passengers were completely innocent."
Neither woman was charged with a crime and neither was armed.
An attorney for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office declined to comment.
While the lawsuit heavily criticizes the actions of the sheriff's deputies and their training, it praises the response of Frankfort city police officers that were also on scene. Video shows Frankfort officers taking a fourth, male passenger out of the front seat without issue and handcuffing him without throwing him to the ground.
"The stark contrast between the restrained, professional conduct of the City of Frankfort police officers at the scene, compared to the unrestrained, violent, and malicious conduct of defendants Doty and Ray, reveals that the FCSO has obviously serious deficiencies in employing, supervising, and training its officers that is likely to result in more - and more serious - violations of the constitutional rights of Franklin County residents if allowed to continue," the lawsuit says.
According to Belzley, an internal investigation was conducted but found no wrongdoing by Doty or Ray.
"That office ought to be embarrassed," Belzley said. "They ought to acknowledge there's a problem here and they ought to rectify it."
The lawsuit seeks damages for pain suffering and a jury trial.