A Magnolia man has filed a $50 million lawsuit against area law enforcement officers, including members of the city of Dover Police Department, saying he was hit on the head by police and that they did not provide medical attention following an accident caused when he ran from authorities.
James A. Wilson, 49, of the 300 block of Cider Run, Magnolia, filed the suit Oct. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. As defendants, he names 12 law enforcement officers, including probation and parole officers.
According to a press release issued at the time by police spokesman Lt. Daniel McKeown, officers were at Wilson's business, Many Things, at 239 W. Loockerman St., on April 4 to serve a search warrant as part of an ongoing investigation into illegal drugs. Wilson was named in the warrant, McKeown said.
Officers spotted Wilson in a parking lot across the street and gave chase after he drove down South New Street at a high rate of speed, McKeown said. Wilson ran a red light at West North Street a block away, hitting a pickup truck and trailer. He then tried to run, but was caught and arrested.
The pickup's driver and passenger suffered cuts and bruises from the collision.
No drugs were found in Wilson's vehicle, but an undisclosed amount of cash was seized, McKeown said.
In his lawsuit, Wilson said he had driven off fearing for his life because a police car blocked him in and a probation and parole officer pointed a gun at him as the officer got out of the police vehicle.
Wilson said after hitting the pickup, he got out of the car and "laid down in a surrendering position," but that an officer hit him in the head with a blunt instrument, causing him to fade in and out of consciousness.
The officer allegedly told Wilson he was lucky "that it is day time and that people are out here."
Wilson also alleges law enforcement officials did not take him to the hospital after he requested medical attention.
After filing a citizen's complaint against the department on April 24, Wilson alleges the Internal Affairs officer taking the case refused to interview witnesses and denied him access to the findings of the report.
Wilson appended copies of a portion of his medical record from Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital, dated April 11, showing diagnoses of facial and elbow contusions, neck pain, neck strain, posttraumatic headache, lower back pain and an apparent fracture in one of the small bones on a vertebrae in his lower back.
Wilson did not list a representing attorney, indicating he is acting on his own behalf.
In addition to the monetary damages, Wilson is asking the court to charge all 12 defendants with criminal conspiracy, assault and hindering prosecution, that all be fired from their posts as law enforcement officials and restraining orders placed against them, that they pay Wilson's medical bills and that all charges resulting from the Apr. 4 incident be dropped.
Page 2 of 2 - When arrested, Wilson was charged with second-degree assault, possession of a deadly weapon (i.e., his vehicle) during the commission of a felony; third-degree assault, resisting arrest and several traffic violations.
Trial on those charges is scheduled for December in Kent County Superior Court.
A trial date for the Oct. 21 lawsuit has not yet been set.
Dover Police Department spokesman Capt. Tim Stump said the department, "cannot comment on pending legislation."
The suit is being handled for the city by Daniel A. Griffith, a partner in the Whiteford, Taylor and Preston law office in Wilmington.
Calls to Griffith were not returned by press time.