DOVER — A 49-year-old man is seeking $50 million in damages after suffering injuries during an April 4, 2013 law enforcement search warrant execution of his downtown business, a civil lawsuit filed Oct. 21 in federal court showed.
No drugs were found and no charges filed against him related to the search warrant, said James A. Wilson, after city police, probation and parole members entered his Many Things clothing store at 239 W. Loockerman St. at approximately 3 p.m.
The Dover Police Department does not comment on ongoing lawsuits, spokesman Capt. Tim Stump said on Monday.
Mr. Wilson alleged that he arrived in a vehicle across the street as the search warrant was underway last spring, and a Dover PD officer pulled his unmarked patrol car to block him in as another officer jumped out with a gun drawn.
Before that, Mr. Wilson said, he observed a handcuffed man outside his store and was concerned for what was going on.
Mr. Wilson said he panicked as law enforcement arrived across the street and attempted to pull out of the parking space before hitting a building and truck with passengers in it.
After that, Mr. Wilson said, he laid on the ground to surrender; a police officer hit him in the head with a blunt instrument, he said, and he proceeded to drift in and out of consciousness.
At one point, Mr. Wilson alleged, an officer shouted “You are lucky that it is daytime and that people are out here,” according to the civil suit.
Mr. Wilson said he suffered four fractures to lower back discs, a torn rotator cuff and post-trauma concussion in the aftermath as more officers arrived. Instead of being taken to the hospital for his injuries as requested, Mr. Wilson said, he was taken by police to be booked on charges related to the incident across the street from his store.
Mr. Wilson said he suffered the injuries from the car accident and from being hit in the head by at least one law enforcement officer.
Thus, Mr. Wilson filed suit in United States District Court District of Delaware against 12 Dover PD and community corrections, probation and parole members on Oct. 21. Mr. Wilson said he paid approximately $115 to $130 to Kent County Levy Court staff to deliver the complaint to all defendants, and is seeking a jury trial.
Mr. Wilson said he is currently attempting to gather more information to support his claims, including city video surveillance footage that captured the alleged incident.
“I’m spending a lot of time on this because too many other people want to give up when something like this happens,” Mr. Wilson said. “The justice system processes should be followed by everyone involved, and that’s what I’m trying to bring out of all this.”
Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, was named to preside over the proceedings.
Mr. Wilson was charged with felony second-degree assault and other offenses related to the arrest after police arrived across the street, he said. He said Dover police alleged that two crack cocaine deals had been transacted at his store through a confidential informant, which created probable cause for the search warrant.
“If I were guilty of something, why would I have come to the area where a search warrant was ongoing and then stick around?” he asked rhetorically. “Wouldn’t a guilty person want to stay away from that?”
On April 11, Mr. Wilson arrived at Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, chest wall tenderness, contusion of face, neck pain, contusion of elbow, cervical (neck) strain, posttraumatic headache, lumbosacral radiculitis, and fracture of transverse process of lumbar vertebra, records showed.
On April 24, Mr. Wilson – who listed Magnolia as his residence - filed a citizen complaint for with the Dover PD seeking assault and excessive force charges against arresting officers be investigated, along with conspiracy charges “on all officers that stood by and did nothing,” Mr. Wilson wrote.
Mr. Wilson said he has a past history of felony robbery and drug convictions after arrests by the Dover PD, but is now concerned with what he describes as a rash of arrests of African Americans in the local community.
“Within the past six months police have constantly been beating us up, sticking tasers in our faces and generally using police brutality to make arrests,” he said.
In the suit, Mr. Wilson asked that all defendants be charged with conspiracy, assault, and hindering prosecution, be fired from their law enforcement jobs, be issued a restraining order to avoid Mr. Wilson, pay for medical bills and that all charges be dropped.
Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DSNAnderson on Twitter.