National News Desk

Elderly man files suit, says he was naked, afraid when police wrongfully searched his home

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By JASMINE BROWN, STEPHANIE FUERTE and HALEY YAMADA, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A South Carolina man is filing suit after he says he was ordered outside in the middle of the night with a gun pointed at his head and forced to stand naked in his yard while officers searched his home without explanation.

Jethro DeVane, 71, filed a lawsuit Monday against the City of Rock Hill for the incident that occurred on Jun. 3, 2019. DeVane said he was asleep at home when he was awoken by police shining lights inside his window. After coming to his door to see what was going on, he alleges the officers pointed a gun at him, led him outside and began searching his home while he was cursed at and forced to stand exposed to the public.

That particular night, I woke up to a nightmare,” said DeVane during a press conference Tuesday. “[An officer] had his gun drawn, he said come out. I did what the man said. He’s got the weapon, I don’t. He could’ve took my life in a minute.”

Newly released bodycam footage shows the elderly man standing in his doorway telling the officers that he lived there.

The officers were searching for four kids who had allegedly broken into a nearby car, according to a statement released by the Rock Hill Police Department on Monday, and thought the kids could have run inside what appeared to be an abandoned residence, despite DeVane being inside.

The Rock Hill Police Department said in the statement that DeVane was “detained by officers for safety” and that once officers “conducted a protective sweep of the residence” and “were able to verify” his identity they left the scene.

DeVane and his lawyers, Justin Bamberg and Julie Beeks, assert that the officers conducted an illegal search of his home and subjected him to humiliation.

“He is pulled out of this house at 71 years old, completely naked,” said Bamberg during a press conference Tuesday. “Is this how we want our law enforcement officers policing neighborhoods? No, it’s not.”

Prior to retaining counsel, DeVane filed a complaint with the city after the incident occurred, but was allegedly treated rudely and his complaint was dismissed. No disciplinary action has been taken by the Rock Hill Police Department and the officers involved were “exonerated” by Chief of Police Chris Watts, according to the lawsuit.

Along with the lawsuit, DeVane is seeking a public apology from Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys and wants additional officer training implemented, according to his attorneys.

The video of DeVane comes to light just days after a similar incident in which body camera footage from Chicago showed police storming into the wrong woman’s apartment.

Anjanette Young, a social worker, was changing her clothes after coming home from work when officers raided her apartment in February 2019. Chicago police body camera video footage showed officers with their guns drawn and handcuffing her while she was naked. After about two minutes, police covered Young with a blanket.

“I don’t believe it’s fair that the city has spent the last two years telling me that they did nothing wrong,” Young said at a press conference on Dec. 16.

The footage was made public this week. Young’s attorney said the city initially tried to block his client from obtaining the video.

On Dec. 17, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown apologized during a press conference and promised change. The mayor has ordered a full release of all body camera video from that night and is asking for state lawmakers to look into how body camera video is governed in Chicago.

Young’s attorney said they will pursue legal action and file a suit against both the city and the Chicago Police Department in the coming days. The officers involved have now been placed on administrative leave.

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