LOUISVILLE, KY., (WDRB) -- A longtime Kentucky attorney claims he was assaulted and unlawfully arrested after a traffic stop last year by Louisville Metro police who then charged him with crimes he didn’t commit to cover up the unlawful acts, according to a lawsuit.
Douglas Miller, an Elizabethtown attorney who has practiced nearly 40 years, claims Officer Mark Baston punched and choked him "without justification" after pulling him over for speeding on April 16, 2019, then threw him to the ground and continued to assault him.
Some of the alleged attack was caught on police body cam.
"To exacerbate the situation, and try to justify his uncalled for brutality, Officer Batson indicated to dispatch that he was an officer in trouble and needed assistance," according to the lawsuit, filed on April 20 in Jefferson Circuit Court. The case has since been moved to U.S. District Court.
In fact, according to the body cam and lawsuit, Batson was holding Miller by the throat on the ground when he called for help. Miller did not appear to be resisting.
"Please, please tell me this is a dream," Miller said, according to the body cam obtained by WDRB News. "God Almighty tell me this is a dream. … You bloodied my nose."
Of the 19 officers who eventually responded, two unnamed officers immediately jumped on Miller's back and continued the assault, even though Miller was "not a threat to anyone on that scene as he lie helpless on the ground while being manhandled," according to the lawsuit, filed by attorneys Greg Belzley and Garry Adams.
The body cam video shows that Batson removed Miller from his vehicle and asked him to take a Breathalizer test. Miller initially agreed before he started asking questions about the test, like whether he would be arrested if he declined to take it.
Batson said he had already seen a beer bottle in Miller's car -- Miller admitted having two or three drinks but said he had passed a Breathalyzer test located in his vehicle before he started driving -- and attempted to arrest him when Miller wavered on taking the test, according to the video.
"No look, I'll do your test," Miller said, right before the officer took him to the ground. "I'll do your test!"
"Get on the ground," Baton yelled, as he called for help. "Roll over right now."
The body cam shows Batson grab Miller by the throat before another officer jumps on him.
"Get your hands behind your back," an officer tells Miller.
"You're holding my hands," Miller responds.
"Please, please tell me this is a dream," Miller said. "God Almighty tell me this is a dream. Oh Lord, please tell me this is a dream. You bloodied my nose."
"Stay there," Batson tells him as Miller is handcuffed, now face down. "Quit moving."
"I'm not going anywhere," said Miller. "You don't have to sit on me. … You're hurting me. Please you're really hurting me."
"Yes I do, you haven't been compliant the whole time," Batson said. "Stop resisting."
"I'm not resisting," Miller responded. "You're killing me. I'm already down. Oh, please stop."
"...I'm not resisting, why are you doing this to me?" Miller asked at one point. He was told to quit moving.
While it is not visible in the body cam, Batson told a commanding officer he had kneed Miller and struck him with his closed fist a couple times.
The suit, which names Batson, other officers and Metro Government, claims LMPD and the city have violated the state open records act by refusing to turn over public records identifying other officers involved.
Sgt. Lamont Washington, an LMPD spokesman, said "it would be inappropriate for us to comment on pending litigation."
He said the officer is not currently on leave and wouldn't say whether the case is being investigated.
The lawsuit notes that criminal charges against Miller are still pending but an amended lawsuit will include a charge of malicious prosecution upon dismissal of the case.
The Jefferson County Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Miller was pulled over about 8 p.m. on April 16, accused of driving 76 miles-per-hour in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 264, according to a police citation.
Officer Batson said he smelled alcohol and Miller said he had a drink at a restaurant, according to the citation.
When he refused to take a Breathalyzer test, Batson tried to arrest Miller but he pulled away so the officer used a leg sweep and took Miller to the ground, according to the arrest report.
"Officer had to use force to conduct the arrest and offender tried to get up even once handcuffs were on," according to the report. Miller was treated for minor injuries.
At the jail, Miller blew a .064, which is under the legal limit of .08 in Kentucky.
Miller was charged with speeding, resisting arrest, DUI and criminal mischief, all misdemeanors. The case is still pending.
Miller's defense attorney has asked that the charges be dismissed, claiming his client was assaulted and there is no evidence he was driving drunk or committed any other crime.
Defense attorney C. Wesley Durham claims Miller asked the officer to give him a portable Breathalyzer test. (Miller initially asked for the test but later began asking questions about it, according to Batson's body cam video.)
"In response, Baston punched Mr. Miller in the face and forced him to the ground, repeatedly striking him, choking him and causing serious physical injuries which constitute felony assault in the 2nd degree," Durham argued in a September motion to dismiss.
Durham argued that the Jefferson County Attorney's office is "selectively" prosecuting Batson because he filed complaints against Miller.
When Batson talked to commander at the scene, he said that Miller was "claiming to be an attorney," Durham wrote.
"Not anymore he isn't," the commander responded.
Durham argued that the county attorney's office has never prosecuted a DUI case when someone has blown under the legal limit and has no prior criminal history.
"The express intent of the Jefferson County attorney is to prosecute Miller because he has complained as a victim of Batson's assault," Durham wrote. The county attorney's office has not responded in writing to the motions, according to a statewide court database.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.
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