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Man files suit against Laurel officer, city after handcuff incident

A Laurel Police officer seen on a local news broadcast apparently striking a man in handcuffs has been sued along with the city for a total of $3 million, according to court documents.

D'Ante Williams, 27 of Cottage City, and his attorney Jimmy Bell filed the civil suit inPrince George's County Circuit Court last week.

In the suit, Williams accuses the city and Laurel Police officer Pfc. Juan Diaz-Chavarria of violating civil rights, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Williams is also accusing the city of negligence.

Bell said Williams has scars on his face from the incident, and is having trouble sleeping at night.

The complaint states that Diaz-Chavarria willingly and maliciously attacked Williams while handcuffed, and that Williams has suffered "physical injury, physical pain and suffering, and extreme and enduring mental anguish" as a result.

"No police officer can hit a person while they're in handcuffs," Bell said.

Williams and his attorney are seeking $2 million in compensatory damages from the defendants, and $1 million in punitive damages from Diaz-Chavarria. Williams has also requested a trial by jury.

"We can't wait to get (Diaz-Chavarria) in front of a jury," Bell said.

A portion of the incident, which occurred at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5 outside Laurel Station Bar and Grill on Route 1, was caught on video by a witness' cell phone camera.

The video, which shows a police officer apparently striking a man three times in handcuffs, aired on NBC Channel 4 news in Washington that night as part of a news report on the incident.

Laurel Police spokeswoman Carreen Koubek said Police Chief Richard McLaughlin opened an internal investigation immediately. She declined to comment further.

Last week, McLaughlin declined to comment on the investigation, but said the case has been referred to thePrince George's CountyState's Attorney's Office.

Bell said he hopes the state's attorney's office will "do the right thing" and indict Diaz-Chavarria.

NBC News report of the incident containing the cell phone video is below.


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