Woman files federal lawsuit against Fayetteville police over alleged assault

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022
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A woman who says police were overly aggressive with her has filed a federal lawsuit against Fayetteville Police Department.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A woman who says police were overly aggressive with her has filed a federal lawsuit against Fayetteville Police Department.

It involves a video recorded by Ja'Lana Dunlap in September. She has a national civil rights legal team representing her.

They claim officers assaulted Dunlap when she was taking photos of a property to document illegal dumping.

An officer asked for identification and when she refused, the situation escalated.

Lawyers say officers dragged Dunlap out of her car and slammed her against it and handcuffed her. She was later released and not charged with any crime.

Fayetteville police say they approached Dunlap in a vacant lot about a half mile from where a potentially violent suspect ran away from police.

Lawyers for Dunlap say the issue officers had with her was her race because the officers were white and Dunlap is black.

"This is the type of case where these things start, and that's how it happens. Police escalation for people of color because I firmly believe that if she was a different color, this would never have happened. She might have been given deference. So, we're going to speak to that," Harry Daniels said.

"You have to speak up for yourself. You have to demand respect whether they wear a badge, or whether they're just in regular clothes. And if you're wearing that badge, if you're wearing a uniform, then you're supposed to protect and serve," Dunlap said.

The lawsuit claims excessive force, deprivation of civil rights and assault and battery, among nine different counts.

Dunlap is seeking $75,000 in damages.

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins has asked a judge to release all of the body cam video from the incident and says an internal investigation is ongoing.