YOUNGSTOWN - Two women who claim two city police officers brutally beat them during a traffic stop have taken their lawsuit against the city and officers to federal court.
Desiree Johnson of West Princeton Avenue and Doretha Weston of Miller Street filed the lawsuit in U.S. Northern District Court Wednesday that claims Lt. Kevin Mercer and Patrolman Patrick Mulligan attacked them during a traffic stop May 30, 2011. The city also is being sued for its "policies, practices and systematic deficiencies."
The case has been assigned to Judge David Dowd. The women had filed suit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court but removed that case to file in federal court.
The lawsuit alleges the two officers harbored animosity toward Johnson because she had filed a complaint and lawsuit against the two officers for drawing their gun on Johnson's son in July 2009. The earlier lawsuit has not been resolved, according to court records.
According to the recent lawsuit, Mercer and Mulligan followed the two women in an unmarked vehicle and the women pulled over as soon as the officers activated their emergency lights.
The women claim Mercer grabbed Weston's head with one hand and pulled her left arm behind her back after he ordered her out of the car. The lawsuit claims Mercer slammed Weston against the car several times, then picked her up and slammed her against the ground three times.
Meanwhile, Johnson, still inside the vehicle, called 911. Mulligan, the lawsuit claims, ordered her to give him her cell phone. Mulligan then attempted to open the door and grabbed Johnson's wig from her head in an attempt to force her out of the car, the lawsuit states.
Then, according to the suit, Mulligan punched Johnson in the face several times and forced her out of the vehicle, kneed her in the stomach, jumped on top of her and punched her repeatedly.
The women are asking for more than $25,000 citing deprivation of their constitutional rights, infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, false arrest and malicious prosecution.
Weston was charged with resisting arrest, failing to use a turn signal, obstructing justice and driving without a valid license. Johnson was charged with resisting arrest, assaulting a police officer and obstructing justice.
All charges except obstruction of justice were dismissed a week later. On March 15 of this year, however, Mercer and Mulligan re-filed charges of resisting arrest and driving under suspension against Weston and assaulting police officers against Johnson in Youngstown Municipal Court. The criminal cases are ongoing and are scheduled for trial June 6.