Town of Summerville, police department face lawsuit in connection to traffic stop

Town of Summerville, police department face lawsuit in connection to traffic stop
Lawyers for a 19-year-old man filed a lawsuit against the Town of Summerville and its police department in connection to a traffic stop which attorneys say was an unlawful traffic stop in which their client was detained at gun point. (Source: SPD)

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Lawyers for a 19-year-old man filed a lawsuit Monday over what they call an unlawful traffic stop in which their client was detained at gunpoint.

Attorney Marvin Pendarvis announced on April 6 that he would file the suit. Court documents state it was filed Monday.

Pendarvis said the incident was excessive and involved profiling.

“What happened to Mr. West was excessive and the result of the kind of profiling that needs to be eradicated in policing,” said Attorney Marvin Pendarvis. “A routine traffic stop for an alleged infraction should not end with guns drawn and a 19 year old kid on his knees, especially when he didn’t pose a threat. It was negligible at best and malicious at worst.”

The suit alleges negligence, false arrest, bystander liability and violations of the South Carolina Constitution.

Officials with the Summerville Police Department said they used a felony traffic stop on West after they noticed West’s car around the same area as a separate shots fired call was made.

Police said it was because they believed the driver to potentially be involved in the shooting.

Video released of the incident showed police officers with guns drawn as they ordered West to the ground. Police say West was not involved in the shots fired call, they gave him a warning for having his headlights off and then let him go. West said it was traumatizing and an overuse of police force.

Police report on incident in Summerville

An incident report states the traffic stop happened on March 21 at 10:43 p.m., minutes after police responded to the area of Weber Road to investigate a report of shots fired at a home.

“Within minutes of the Summerville Police Department receiving these emergency calls, a Summerville Police officer observed a vehicle possibly being involved in the shooting leaving the area of the reported gun shots,” Lt. Chris Hirsch said in a statement. “The vehicle was observed to not have headlights on while on the roadway. The officer proceeded to stop the vehicle by traffic stop.”

Hirsch said police conducted a felony traffic stop because of the seriousness of the situation.

“Once the officer found the vehicle to not be involved, the driver was released from detention and was issued a written warning for no headlights,” Hirsch said.

The incident report states four or five shots were heard in the area and that one of them struck a home in the 100 block of Weber Street.

No one was injured by gunfire.

RAW VIDEO: Traffic stop in Summerville

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