A Black man was awarded $45,000 in a lawsuit settlement last month after he sat in a Detroit jail for three days for nothing more than jaywalking.
Steele Hughes was not carrying a weapon and had no criminal history when a police officer stopped him as he and his fiancée were heading from Fishbone’s restaurant in Greektown to downtown parking in June 2017, according to ABC affiliate WXYZ.
The traffic was clear, so Hughes told the news station he crossed Monroe Street and quickly attracted the attention of three officers.
“An officer made a call: ‘Get out of the street,’” Hughes said. “That’s what we were doing. We continued to walk across the street.”
When Hughes made it across the street, the officers were waiting on him.
“Next thing I know, a hand grabs my shoulder and then my wrist, and then I’m thrown to the ground,” Hughes told WXYZ.
Surveillance video captured the encounter, as well as pedestrians who pulled out their cellphones to record.
In the surveillance footage, Hughes can be heard asking officers “What did I do?”
At the time, he was on his back while three officers stood around him.
Hughes was arrested in the incident on claims of disorderly conduct and obstructing police, but the Wayne County prosecutor decided not to charge him, WXYZ reported.
Still, Hughes’ stint in jail led to a two-week suspension from his job, so he hired attorney Herbert Sanders to investigate, the news station reported.
Sanders said police “began to manufacture their statements in order to justify and support their actions.”
“It’s scary to think what might have happened if there wasn’t video,” he told WXYZ. “If there weren’t people out there with cameras, this could have escalated and he could be dead.”
Hughes told the news station one officer said Hughes “shrugged violently away” and another said he took an “aggressive posture” leading the officer to grab his left hand “before he could launch an attack.”
Hughes also said the officers falsely claimed he swore at them.
“I would have no reason to attack three armed officers in downtown Detroit after a date night,” Hughes told WXYZ.
He did, however admit his fault in the situation.
“I shouldn’t have jaywalked. I can acknowledge that,” he told WXYZ. “The officers shouldn’t have touched me. I shouldn’t have been arrested. I shouldn’t have been arrested for 72 hours.”