BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo man seen in cell phone video being punched in the head repeatedly by a Buffalo police officer plans to sue the city, the police department, the police commissioner and both officers involved in his arrest.
An attorney representing Quentin Suttles, 30, has filed a notice of claim in State Supreme Court. Suttles claims Buffalo Police Officers Ronald Ammerman and Michael Scheu used excessive force when they pulled him over and arrested him on May 10.
The arrest, which was caught on a bystander's cell phone video and police body cams, shows one of the officers punching Suttles in the head repeatedly while he is on the ground.
The body camera footage was provided to 7 Eyewitness News by the attorney for Suttles, Josh Ramos.
"There's not a fiber in my body that makes me want to go through what we just went through," said Ammerman in an exchange with Suttles in the back of the cop car on the way to Central Booking. "I don't want to hurt another person I don't want to do that," he said.
The claim also accuses the city, the police department and Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood of not properly training officers in use of force and not providing adequate supervision of their actions.
According to the claim, officers Ammerman and Scheu followed Suttles' vehicle for several minutes and pulled him over on Madison Street after he "committed a minor traffic offense." Police said Suttles was going the wrong way down a one-way street.
During a search of Suttles after he stepped out of his car, the claim states the officers "had engaged in prolonged grabbing of his genitals while finding no contraband. The officers... then grabbed his hands and while throwing him to the ground advised that his hands need to be out of his pockets...while his hands were either against the car, or being held by the officers."
"I don't get why it's appropriate to hold someone by their genitals," said Ramos.
Suttles' attorney says when asked by a bystander recording the altercation why they were punching Suttles in the head, the officers responded by saying they were saving his life because he was trying to eat drugs.
"He's trying to eat the drugs," Ammerman said.
You can view the officer's body camera video here.
You can view cell phone video from a witness here.
The claim also accuses the officers of not seeking medical treatment for Suttles until the following day, despite the fact that he suffered serious injuries.
The police report, obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, states officers noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from Suttles' vehicle after pulling him over for driving the wrong way.
"While conducting pat down, searched defendant did push off vehicle and fight with officers," the police report states. "Defendant continued to fight and reach in his pants, ignoring officers command to stop resisting."
The report also says officers recovered a white powder substance from Suttles' left pocket. Ramos says that "substance" was MiraLAX, a laxitive. The City has not gotten back to us on whether or not the substance has been returned from the lab.
In an attempt to handcuff Suttles, police say he was taken down to the ground. A police source told 7 Eyewitness News in May he had drugs on him and tried to destroy the drugs while officers tried handcuffing him.
In the video, one officer says, "let it go," and "I'm trying to get the drugs." You can also hear an officer say "You're making this hard on yourself."
A woman off-camera can be heard telling Suttles to "stop resisting." He replies "I'm not."
On the way to Central Booking, on body camera Suttles says, "why do you keep doing that to me man?" Ammerman says, "You didn't put your hands...we didn't know what you were trying to do. People swallow and die man. Why didn't you just put your hands behind your back? That's my question to you. That's all I want to know."
On video at Central Booking, Suttles admits to having some marijuana and says he got rid of it.
The Erie County District Attorney's Office is investigating the incident.
Both officers remain on duty with the Buffalo Police Department.