When Jaylan Butler’s swim team stopped at a rest area in East Moline, Illinois last year, the last thing he expected was for his life to be threatened by an Illinois police officer. Butler, who was 19 years old at the time, was traveling on a bus with his teammates, heading back from a championship tournament they had just competed in. The members of the team were attending Eastern Illinois University at the time.
It was around 8:00 p.m. when the bus driver decided to pull into a rest area and allow the swim team to stretch their legs a bit. Butler had just finished taking a photo when he began making his way back to the bus. But that is when he was approached by multiple law enforcement vehicles. Officers had their lights flashing and their guns appeared to be drawn and pointed at him, reports The New York Times.
Although surprised by all the commotion, Butler “knew what to do.” The source says that “he instantly stopped, puts his hands up, dropped the cellphone that was in his hand, and dropped to his knees.” Several officers approached Butler and one allegedly pushed his knee into his back. Another was accused of pressing down on his neck. Butler was then placed in handcuffs.
While none of the officers explained to Butler what was going on or why he was being treated like a suspect, one officer allegedly pushed his handgun into Butler’s forehead and warned him that if he continued to move, he would “blow his head off.” The news source says that the bus driver and Butler’s swim coach got off the bus and informed the officers that the 19-year-old was a part of the college’s swim team. The officers proceeded to pay down Butler and place him in their cruiser.
He was later released.
College Swim Team Member Files Lawsuit Against Illinois Officers
About a year after the incident occurred, Butler recently filed a lawsuit in federal court in Illinois “citing claims of false arrest, excessive detention, and excessive use of force.” Butler not only named officers from the Hampton and East Moline Police Departments, but also deputies from the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office. After the lawsuit was filed, Jeff. J. Ramsey, who is the current chief of the East Moline Police Department, said that “his officers had been searching for a gunman who reportedly had shot at a vehicle on Interstate 80 not far from the encounter with Mr. Butler.”
Sheriff Gerald Bustos with the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office said that “he was [never made aware] that an incident or use of force had occurred.” He did, however, acknowledge that his deputies for involved in a manhunt and that the allegation made against his officers were “without merit.”
While Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois did request that an investigation be conducted, Butler chose to hire a police brutality lawyer to assist with his case and is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.