Black Teen’s Family Files Lawsuit After Officer Kneeled On His Neck

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The family of a Black teen filed a lawsuit against the Baton Rouge police department after an officer kneeled on his neck and ignored pleas about having asthma. 

The lawsuit, obtained by Atlanta Black Star, alleges one of the arresting officers told 16-year-old Dillion Cannon “I don’t give a damn,” after the teen told officers he suffers from asthma. The incident took place last July when police pursued a vehicle in which Cannon was a passenger over a seatbelt violation.

Tenesha Cannon, the teen's mother, filed the lawsuit and claims both the driver and Dillion exited the car after it came to a stop with their hands on their head. Dillion, his mother said in the suit, complied with police commands but was held at gunpoint and “forcefully handcuffed” by officers. 

“Our client, her son, was a passenger. He doesn’t control the car … he doesn’t drive it, on his knees, in a submissive position and yet he was handled as if he was a threat,” the family’s attorney Ron Haley said during a press conference after the incident last year, the Atlanta Black Star reported. 

Body camera video of the arrest was posted to social media by Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers soon after Cannon’s arrest. Chambers said in the post’s caption, “any cop that puts their knee in the neck of a citizen they are attempting to detain in America needs to be fired immediately. No exceptions. No excuses.” 

The lawsuit even points out that Baton Rouge police knelt on Dillion’s neck just six weeks after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin

The teen had to reportedly wear a neck brace afterwards. The family is seeking damages for injuries as a result and attorney’s fees. 

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