Black teen punched, tasered and arrested by police awarded $18 by jury

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

DeShawn Franklin was asleep when three white police officers entered his room and began to punch him in the face.

The incident took place in 2012, but he still remembers it vividly.

“I didn’t even know what was going on. I was just asleep,” Franklin said in an interview with The Washington Post. “It was just all a big shock and disturbance.”

Franklin was only 18 years old at the time and had no criminal record when he was hit repeatedly, tasered, dragged from his bed and thrown in the back of a squad car. His disabled father watched helplessly.

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It was a case of mistaken identity with a description of “black, slim, dreadlocks” being enough for cops to enter the North Indiana suburban home — but they had no warrant.  Franklin says the encounter left him traumatized, and his family decided to file a civil suit.

Although police admitted the mistake and a jury determined Franklin’s constitutional rights were violated, four years later, Franklin has been awarded $1 from each defendant: a grand total of $18.

The Franklins asked for $1 million dollars in damages, but an attorney for the city says the family lacked evidence to show damages (i.e. medical bills, lost wages, psychological treatment). The result? A jury award of the default amount of $1 for unlawful entry and $1 for unlawful seizure for three defendants to pay to the three plaintiffs.

The city’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, says it offered to settle the case for $15,000 and thought it was an “appropriate” settlement. Franklin’s lawyer, Johnny Ulmer, said that damages for similar cases are generally between $100,000 and $300,000.

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“If they would have put an amount on the table that I felt was appropriate, we would have settled,” Ulmer said. “What happened that night, the physical abuse that DeShawn suffered — they were slapping my clients in the face with the offer they put out there.”

Buttigieg told The Washington Post that Deshawn Franklin was an “outstanding young man” saying, “I really want him to feel that he has a place here in South Bend, and that the city cares about him.  Anything that takes away from that is an example of what we’ve got to deal with.”

The Post reports that Franklin now works setting up equipment and moving furniture at the University of Notre Dame and hopes to attend community college.

He says he has no choice but to move on now that the jury has made its decision.

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