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Lawsuit says officer broke car window, threw driver on glass

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A Black motorist says a white North Carolina police officer threw her onto broken glass after he broke her car window with his baton in 2018, leaving her with multiple cuts that required hospital treatment, according to a lawsuit.

Danielle Helena Downing, now 39, of Charlotte, says in the lawsuit filed on April 2 in federal court in Charlotte, that Mooresville police Officer Josh Barlow used his baton to smash her car window as she was attempting to hand him her vehicle registration, The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday. Mooresville is about 30 miles (45 kilometers) north of Charlotte.

According to the lawsuit, Barlow then dragged her from the car and threw her to the pavement on top of the shards of glass, leaving her with numerous cuts and other injuries. Days later, Downing says in the complaint, she pulled a piece of window glass from her mouth.

Downing, who suffered numerous cuts and bruises along with a chipped tooth, was handcuffed and left on the ground, the lawsuit says. The incident may have been captured on Barlow’s body-worn camera, according to the lawsuit.

At no point did Barlow ever tell her why she had been stopped, the lawsuit said. A copy of the incident report obtained by the newspaper doesn’t show what led to the traffic stop. Public records show Downing was arrested on misdemeanor charges of resisting a public officer and assault on a government official, but the charges were dropped six months later.

Two days after the traffic stop, according to the lawsuit, Downing filed a formal complaint with the Mooresville police. One of Barlow’s superiors had a discussion with Downing and asked “What is it going to take to get all of this to go away?” the lawsuit says.

Downing’s lawsuit names Barlow, the Town of Mooresville in Iredell County and the police department as defendants. It accuses them of constitutional violations involving unreasonable seizure and excessive force, negligence, and assault and battery.

Neither Barlow nor attorney Pat Flanagan, who represents the town and police department, responded to requests for comment. Mooresville spokeswoman Kim Sellers said Tuesday that the town had not received a copy of the complaint, but it would not comment on a pending case.

Downing couldn’t be reached for comment and her attorney, Cheyenne Chambers, said she could not comment on an ongoing case.

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