LINCOLN, Neb. – A federal civil rights lawsuit filed today seeks to hold Papillion police officers accountable for a traffic stop that involved officers tasing a man, holding him down on the ground and tackling his partner. The ACLU of Nebraska is representing the couple, who were not charged with any crime.
The lawsuit centers around the evening of Dec. 26, 2019. Jason Storrs had just picked up his partner from work when he noticed a cruiser weaving through traffic at a high speed behind them. After Storrs pulled to the side of the road, officers approached the car, telling the couple they were investigating a shoplifting report. At least one officer wore tactical gear and carried a semi-automatic weapon.
The descriptions of the shoplifting suspects did not match Storrs, his partner or their vehicle. Dispatch had reported the suspects were either four Black women or a Black woman and Black man driving in a four-door silver Plymouth. Storrs is Black. His partner is white. They were in their two-door silver BMW.
Police ordered Storrs out of the car and he complied. When his partner stepped out of the car while recording on her phone, an officer lunged at the woman, tackling her to the ground as another officer tased Storrs’ groin and threatened to tase him again as officers held him face down on the ground.
Police handcuffed both, and after determining the couple was not involved in the shoplifting, did not cite or arrest Storrs or his partner for any offense. Storrs’ partner was transported to the hospital via ambulance as a result of her injuries.
Storrs said he feared for his life during that traffic stop, so much so that he even asked his partner to call 911 as it happened.
“We were wrongfully accused, violated and scared,” Storrs said. “Through this entire stop, we were never given the benefit of the doubt even though we had done nothing wrong. We were just trying to live our lives. We’ve seen too many situations like that end with a Black man dead. That’s why I want accountability.”
The lawsuit argues the stop violated the couple’s rights in several ways, citing unlawful detention, excessive force and retaliation against the protected activity of filming police.
Scout Richters, legal and policy counsel at the ACLU of Nebraska, said the officers crossed clear lines.
“Our clients committed no crime. They were simply driving home. There was no justification for police to traumatize and injure this couple. We’re committed to making things right,” Richters said.
The lawsuit requests the Court find police deprived the couple of their rights and award damages as the court sees fit.