A South Bend man has filed a $350,000 excessive-force claim against the city’s police department after he suffered a “slow brain bleed” he claims was caused by an officer repeatedly punching him in the face.
Tom Stevens, 55, was hospitalized with head injuries several days after an altercation with a South Bend Police officer on March 25, according to a report from the South Bend Tribune.
Stevens’ attorney says his client’s injuries were caused by being punched in the head between 10 and 20 times by officer Aaron Knepper.
The St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against Stevens on Friday, June 24, according to the Tribune. His charges include felony charges of possession of marijuana, illegal possession of prescription drugs and resisting police. He also faces two misdemeanor charges and two traffic infractions.
According to court documents obtained by the Tribune, Knepper tried to stop Stevens for driving without headlights and failing to stop at a stop sign. Stevens ignored Knepper and fought back when Knepper tried to arrest him.
Prosecutors acknowledge that Knepper and Stevens struggled, but said Stevens’ injuries could have been caused by a fall onto a hard surface.
Stevens' mother, Suzanne Stevens, has filed a separate claim against the city alleging she was injured when she tried to intervene in the struggle and that police pressured her to give them permission to search her house and arrested her when she refused. She is demanding $50,000.
Knepper remains on duty as a patrol officer on the midnight shift while the South Bend Police Department reviews his actions for any possible violation of department policy, Capt. Phil Trent, a police spokesman, told the Tribune.
Visit The South Bend Tribune to read the full report.