Mistaken Identity Leads to Police Beat Down of Phoenix Man, Complaint Alleges

A Phoenix man is suing the City of Phoenix, former Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris, and several others over a beating he says he received from two Phoenix police officers who initially mistook him for a drug dealer they'd previously arrested.

According to the suit, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, Phoenix resident Terry Daniels was riding his bike north on 11th Avenue approaching West Grant Street about 9:30 p.m. last July 1.

Two Phoenix police officers, Corey Shibata and Jason Hamernick, were driving down 11th Avenue when they noticed Daniels.

The two officers mistook Daniels for Todd Richardson Sr., a suspected drug dealer the two had arrested the previous year.

The officers stopped to talk with the man they thought was Richardson, realized it wasn't him, and that's where things get a little confusing.

In a police report the officers filed after arresting Daniels, they claim that when they confronted him, his arms were "shaking uncontrollably" and they suspected he was having a drug overdose.

When the officers exited their cruiser to talk with Daniels, they say he pulled a six-inch knife out of his pocket. The officers pulled their guns as the knife-wielding Daniels tried to hide next to a telephone pole, the officers wrote in their report.

After a brief standoff, Daniels dropped the knife and went to his knees, the officers wrote. When Hammernick kicked the knife away, the officers say Daniels got up and tried to run.

He was tackled by the cops and roughed up a little bit -- the officers noted four to six "knee strikes" to Daniels's upper thigh by Hammernick, while Shibata delivered an additional six to eight "knee strikes."

However, a witness to the beating gives a much different account.

Richard Pinkney watched as he waited for a bus at the corner of Grand Street and 11th Avenue. He signed a statement stating the following:

"The officers approached the black man [Daniels] from behind near the center of Ilth Avenue, near the north curb line of Grant. The two officers began striking the black man while he was still standing. The black man went to the roadway and assumed a fetal position. The two officers continued striking him and kicking him. Though I could not see what, if anything, was in the hands of the officers, they appeared to be striking him with something other than their fists based on the movement of their arms.

In addition, they were striking him with their fists and kicking him. The officers then drug the black man to the northeast corner of l lth Avenue and Grant where they remained until emergency medical personnel arrived."

In his lawsuit, Daniels claims the officers covered up the details of the attack on Daniels and conspired to present a false description of events to evade responsibility.

Daniels' injuries don't exactly reflect a few "knee strikes" to the thigh, either.

Daniels was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage, a fracture to his left eye socket, six fractured ribs, fractures in his lower back, and bruises along his head, face, arrns, sides, and stomach. His left eye was swollen shut.

Daniels is requesting a jury trial, where he "respectfully prays" for general and specific damages in an amount to be proven at trial, punitive damages, and other relief the court may deem appropriate.

See a copy of the complaint here.

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