Lawsuit: Police forced naked, elderly man out of home at gunpoint for improper search

Lawsuit: Police forced naked, elderly man out of home at gunpoint for improper search

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Jethro DeVane of Rock Hill filed a lawsuit against the city after he claims that four police officers forced him out of his home naked two summers ago and held him at gunpoint while they conducted an improper search inside his home.

Police were called to Douglas Street on June 3, 2019, after someone saw four juveniles inside a vehicle parked in front of a home.

The kids were gone by the time officers arrived. Those officers then searched DeVane’s neighborhood looking for them, the lawsuit claims.

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DeVane, 71, was naked and looked out his windows. He saw people carrying flashlights and searching on and around his property. He claims he could not tell that they were the police.

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An officer pointed a gun at DeVane, who was ordered outside his home and gave commands to see his hands.

DeVane said, at one point, he thought his life was in danger.

“He could have took my life in a minute,” DeVane said. “And he put the gun on my shoulder, and I heard the trigger when he pulled it back. Click, I knew I was gone.”

DeVane told authorities that he lived there.

(Watch the police bodycam footage of the incident below.)

BODYCAM VIDEO: Police pull naked Rock Hill man from home while looking for car break-in suspects

The lawsuit says officers searched the home while DeVane was held at gunpoint.

After clearing the home, an officer told DeVane, “The reason we did that is because we got a group of four juveniles – what we think – four males running around trying to break into cars.”

The lawsuit claims DeVane remained calm and complied with the officers’ orders. There was no search warrant issued to go inside DeVane’s home.

The lawsuit says, “Officers had no reason to take the actions they did as no one had seen the four juveniles enter the premises. No one had chased the juveniles into plaintiff’s yard. No one had alleged there was a home break-in, and (the) plaintiff, a senior citizen, was present at the back door the home informing the officers that he lived there.”

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DeVane is seeking damages because the officers are accused of gross negligence, civil assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress/ outrage, false imprisonment, abuse of process and civil conspiracy.

Below is the statement Rock Hill police issued to ABC News:

On June 3rd, 2019, Rock Hill Police Officers responded to a call for service on Douglas Street at 3:55 am, where the complainant reported to dispatch his vehicle had just been broken into by four subjects, possibly juveniles. Our officers began responding to the area and were updated the subjects were walking on Lucky Lane. One of our officers observed the subjects on Lucky Lane as the subjects fled on foot. Our officer gave pursuit on foot and the subjects ran behind 236 Lucky Lane. During this foot pursuit, additional officers were responding to the area to assist in apprehension. These officers arrived in the area going into the backyard of 236 Lucky Lane where the subjects just ran. As the officers continued through the backyard, they came upon 237 Barber Street, which is directly behind 236 Lucky Lane. The officers observed the grass to be uncut, a swimming pool unmaintained, and the door of the residence standing completely open. There were no lights on inside the residence or outside the residence. Officers believed the residence to be unoccupied. Our officers focused on the residence due to the circumstances which lead them there. With the reasonable belief the subjects could have run inside the residence, the residence appearing to be abandoned, and in the interest of public safety to make sure no one else was inside being harmed, our officers decided to physically check the residence. While making approach, they encountered Mr. Devane who appeared in the doorway, only being illuminated by the officer’s flashlights. All the lights to the residence were still off. Mr. Devane was detained by officers for safety as the residence was still not completely checked. Officers then conducted a protective sweep of the residence. Once officers were able to verify Mr. Devane’s identity and account of his being at the residence they left the scene and continued checking the area for the subjects who broke into the vehicle.

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