A swimmer who attended Eastern Illinois University said he was held at gunpoint by an officer as well as searched for no valid reason. Jaylan Butler said he was with his teammates and was returning from a championship tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D. when their bus driver topped in East Moline, Illinois. Butler decided to use this opportunity to go for a walk but what was supposed to be a quick stretching turned into an unnecessary interrogation by law enforcement officers.
Several officers pulled up beside him with their lights flashing on. They stepped out of their vehicles and came up to him with their guns pointing towards him. It is interesting to note that Butler was the only African American student on the bus and the officers only confronted him and no one else.
He immediately dropped to his knees in panic and dropped his cellphone to the ground with his hands raised high up into the air. This gesture of submission should have been more than enough for the officers to realize he meant no harm, but the officers pushed their knees into his back and pressed down on his neck. The officers warned him that if he moved, they intended to ‘blow his head off’.
When his coach and his bus driver saw how he was being treated they quickly got out of the bus and told the officers that Butler was part of the swim team and had been on the bus the entire time. Officers put him in the back of their patrol car and eventually did remove his handcuffs.
When Butler filed a lawsuit for his mistreatment the officers stated they had been on a manhunt in that area looking for a shooter who had recently just shot at a vehicle near that area. They failed to give a description of what the shooter looked like. Butler is suing for damages, but officers claim that his statements against them are baseless and that the event did not take place the way he described it.
Are police officers allowed to search whoever they want?
Police officers do have permission by the law to search an individual if they have a valid reason to believe the person was posing a threat to society. However, in the case of butler, who had completely submitted himself and who had not engaged in any suspicious activity before being confronted by the officers, the search can be considered illegal.
Police officers are also not allowed to conduct searches on private property unless they have an authorized warrant. Police brutality and harassment are a lot more common then most people think. There are generally certain people (such as those who have African American roots) who are more often targeted by officers unjustly.
Butler’s encounter with the officers occurred in February of last year but he is now actively seeking compensation against the officers who caused him to suffer humiliation and physical pain without them having any solid basis for their actions.