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Woman accuses Gary officers of excessive force, wrongful arrest

Woman accuses Gary officers of excessive force, wrongful arrest

  • Updated

HAMMOND | A Gary woman alleges in a federal lawsuit she was wrongfully arrested by officers who used excessive force during the incident, according to court records.   

Hakimah I. Qualls, 32, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Hammond against the city of Gary, the Gary Police Department and the Gary Housing Authority stemming from her Feb. 9, 2013, arrest.

The lawsuit also names Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley along with officers Craig Morris, T.F. Tatum, J. Franklin, Emilio Guajardo and Freddie Cook.

The Gary Police Department is accused of battery, malicious prosecution and violating Qualls' rights under the First, Sixth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit states Qualls was a bystander Feb. 9, 2013, when officers arrived at the Dorie Miller public housing complex. According to the complaint, an officer approached Qualls and assaulted her after she questioned his actions.

Two officers at the scene are accused of dragging Qualls by her hair and slamming her onto a police car. An officer then sat on Qualls who was in the back seat of a police car, and the officer also punched and choked her, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit goes on to allege the officers denied Qualls immediate medical treatment and denied her access to an attorney while in police custody.

Chelsea Whittington, spokeswoman for the city of Gary, said by email Friday the city declined to comment, citing pending litigation. 

Qualls was charged Feb. 11, 2013, with battery by body waste, battery, resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct. According to the affidavit, Gary Police Department Reserve Officer Craig Morris responded Feb. 9, 2013, to the 2000 block of Maine Street in Gary to a disturbance call. 

Qualls allegedly was an unwanted party at a residence and told the officer to "(expletive) off" because she was a criminal justice major and knew the law, according to the affidavit. 

She allegedly kicked the officer in the leg and spit at him during a struggle, according to the affidavit. The criminal charges against Qualls were dropped Jan. 7, 2014.

The Lake County prosecutor's office dismissed the charges "in the interest of justice," according to a motion filed in the case.  

According to the lawsuit, Qualls suffered a broken jaw, a broken nose, a dislocated shoulder, a bruised pelvis, facial swelling and several bruises throughout her body as a result of the arrest. Qualls also now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms such as depression, flashbacks and anxiety.  


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