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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Mom Files Lawsuit Over Lakewood Library Cop Breaking Her Daughter's Jaw Last Year

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 11:44 AM

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Lakewood mom Sabrina Robinson has filed a lawsuit against the city and library due to a police officer's alleged abuse of her daughter there last year.

According to a press release from Robinson's lawyer, her children (17-year-old J.G. and then-11-year-old D.J.) were at the Lakewood Library's Madison branch on Nov. 7 last year when Lakewood police officer Kevin Jones "brutally assaulted J.G. without provocation."

The official complaint says that Robinson dropped her children off at the library so they could use the building's Wi-Fi. While D.J. and J.G. sat in the children's section, D.J. watched TV on his laptop and J.G. listened to music via headphones; Jones approached her and requested she turn it down. Though J.G. obeyed, Jones continued to ask her to lower the music's volume until she turned it off.

Jones stood watching the siblings until they migrated to the adult section, uneasy about his "constant vigilance." There, they sat and continued watching TV until Jones approached them again, this time requesting that J.G. take her feet off a chair they were resting on, the complaint says.

J.G. removed her feet, and Jones demanded she exit the library. The teen asked why, and said she'd have to phone her mom first. After J.G. stood with the intention of leaving, Jones grabbed her and began forcefully guiding her toward the library's exit.

When they neared the front desk, Jones grew particularly violent and, as D.J. watched, shoved J.G. into a book cart. After she fell, Jones placed her in a full nelson (a move banned in amateur wrestling for being too dangerous) and "dragged" her to the door.

J.G. "screamed in agony" when she fell in the doorway, face-first, and Jones tumbled on top of her. This, according to the complaint, broke her jaw.

Outside, Jones "continued to berate" J.G. as she bled on the steps (which Jones later rinsed off with a water bottle), and said she should "stop being a smartass." He then dialed her mother, after D.J. brought him his sister's phone.

J.G. continued to bleed "profusely" from her mouth. When other officers arrived, she was given instructions to spit on the grass instead of the steps, but no medical attention.

The complaint alleges that while they waited 20 minutes for an ambulance and Robinson to arrive, Jones was "laughing about clocking out early rather than calling an ambulance to attend to the crying teenager."

Further, when Robinson arrived, Jones told her that the teenager had been "mouthing off" and refusing to leave the library.

One of J.G. and D.J.'s lawyers, Subodh Chandra, said in the release that the incident should infuriate people in Northeastern Ohio, particularly parents.

"What happened to J.G. highlights a profound failure in Lakewood to train officers to treat children with dignity and respect," said Chandra. "It shows how far we have to go for true police reform in Northeast Ohio."

Lakewood Police Captain Hassing finished a review of the incident on Nov. 22 last year, and reported to Chief Malley that, in his opinion, "physical force was not warranted at the time." He said he felt Jones should receive departmental charges for numerous violations, such as using a full nelson hold on J.G. and not turning on his body cam until after he'd started arguing with her.

The lawsuit points a finger at the City of Lakewood for not teaching officers how to properly interact with minors, and says the library "failed to train Officer Jones in his duties as a Library security officer, including regarding how to conduct himself in situations involving children."

Eight claims against the library and city, including Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment violations, are leveled in the suit.

J.G. was treated at the Cleveland Clinic, where doctors reset her broken jaw and treated her head and knee injuries. Since last November, she has been treated for depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and both J.G. and her brother have suffered nightmares of the incident.

Jones is still a member of the Lakewood Police Department.

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