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Durham city council to discuss excessive force complaint

Durham city leaders are set to review a controversial report that accuses its police force of racial profiling.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Durham city leaders are set to review a controversial report that accuses its police force of racial profiling.

It comes as the department defends itself against an excessive force complaint that was caught on police dash cam video.



John Hill accused the officer of using excessive force after he was thrown to the ground and arrested for allegedly running a red light on his bike last September. The charges were later dropped.

The department released the video just days before the city council reviews a list of recommendations for policy changes.

A report stemming from several public hearings accuses Durham police of racial bias and profiling during traffic stops and searches.

Hill's attorney says this video is an example of those concerns.

"If you look at the video, you'll see that after they have manhandled Mr. Hill, they search his bag, and the law prohibits police from searching a bag if a person is already taken into custody," said attorney Scott Holmes. "So, they violated his rights not only when they attacked him and threw him to the ground, but when they searched his bag without a warrant."

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez, however, says what you see is a trained officer dealing with a man who was verbally abusive and aggressive. Police say Hill tried to touch the officer.

"What's being pretty much promoted is that the officer did something wrong when, in fact, he did a textbook maneuver in order to secure and take into custody an individual," said Lopez.

ABC11 asked Durham's Police Chief whether there was an alternative to the maneuver used by the officer.

"When you have three seconds, you only think of one way and you take that route to be as safe as you can," Lopez responded. "If you look at the video, notice the amount of traffic. Anything could've happened if the officer hadn't acted quickly."

The city council will take up the report at its work session Thursday.

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