Poughkeepsie mother sues city, claims police used excessive force in viral video

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The mother of a teen depicted in a viral video being thrown to the ground by an officer is taking legal action, saying police used excessive force.

Video from March shows Poughkeepsie police trying to break up a fight between school-aged children on Hammersely Avenue and Church Street after a young girl appears to be slammed to the ground by an officer.

The girl's mother, Melissa Johnson, is now suing the city, alleging excessive force and the false arrest of her two girls, Julissa, 13, and Jamelia, 16.

The teens claim they were innocent bystanders and were not engaged in the fight. They say they were in police custody for hours and were not allowed to call their mother. Both were charged with obstruction of government administration, and Julissa also faces resisting arrest charges.

"I was asking what I was getting arrested for, 'cause you know, when you're getting arrested they're supposed to tell you what you're getting arrested for. He did not do that," says Julissa.

Their mother says police deleted additional video evidence from another student's phone and cloud account.

Mayor Rob Rolison tells News 12 the arrests were "reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, which included an officer being forced to the ground and a fight that had spilled out into traffic."

The family's attorney, William O. Wagstaff III, completely disagrees.

"For a grown man to pick a 15-year-old up or a 12-year-old up and discard them to the floor in a violent fashion is never reasonable," says Wagstaff.

All of these months later, the girls still say they don't know what they did to deserve those charges. Their next court date is Nov. 13.


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