Woman files federal lawsuit against the Delaware State Police

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A Delaware woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the Delaware State police according to federal court documents.

WILMINGTON (DE) BY DIGITAL STAFF: A Delaware woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the Delaware State police according to federal court documents. The Department of Homeland Security, and the state of Delaware are also named as defendants in the suit.

According to the lawsuit, 20-Year-Old Martiayna Watson, says plain clothes officers boxed her car in at 10th and N. Church Street in the city of Wilmington, then dragged her out by force, held a stun gun to her neck, as another officer smashed in one of her car windows.

Photo | Martiayna Watson

“I’m sorry. This event has been really traumatic for me,” said Martiayna Watson as she teared up about the traumatic event. “Like, I have trouble sleeping at night. When I’m driving, I’m afraid that officers are just gonna barricade me again, and just pull me over without reason again and just hold me at gunpoint.”

Watson says when they realized they had the wrong person, they left the scene, leaving her hysterically crying and alone with her damaged car.

The incident unfolded at the BP Gas Station at 201 South Heald Street on June 24, 2021, according to her attorneys, Emeka Igwe and Renee Leverette. 

The attorneys held a press conference outside the BP Gas Station Thursday afternoon to announce the federal lawsuit. They were joined by representatives from the NAACP Delaware Chapter, including President Richard “Mouse” Smith.

Delaware Newsline obtained a copy of that lawsuit below.

071521_Woman files federal lawsuit against the Delaware State Police_suit

According to court documents, Watson says she was leaving the BP Gas Station on South Heald Street on July 24, 2021, in her light grey Nissan Altima around 5:25 p.m. when she noticed a vehicle following her at a slow rate of speed.

Watson says the vehicle followed her to 10th & N. Church Street in the city of Wilmington where suddenly and without warning, the vehicle swerved to the front of her, blocking her lane of travel. She says, almost simultaneously, another vehicle hit her car from the rear as two other vehicles blocked her vehicle on both the right and left side creating a blockade.

Watson says the officers then got out of their vehicles with guns drawn at her as they approached her vehicle. With both her front windows down, she asked, “what is going on?” She says one of the officers screamed, “Stop talking, and shut the #### up!” then suddenly she says another man broke her drivers side rear window, and another dragged her out of the vehicle with force and aggression, then held a stun gun to her neck. As she cried in fear, the officer said, “I’m going to #### you up.,” according to the lawsuit.

Eventually, she said that one of the officers said, “I think we have the wrong person.” That’s when Watson says the officers got back into their vehicles and drove off without so much an apology – leaving her on the side of the road hysterically crying and alone.

The lawsuit also named The Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the State of Delaware as defendants.

“Not only did she not do anything wrong on that day, she’s never been in trouble with the law at all,” said Igwe. “This is her first encounter at the hands of these aggressive police officers.”

According to court documents, authorities were looking for a Black male and female in a dark grey Nissan Maxima. Watson was traveling in a light grey Nissan Altima.

Photo | Watson said, four unmarked vehicles suddenly boxed her in around the 100 block of Church Street, and undercover officers surrounded her vehicle with guns drawn, screaming orders at her. When she asked through her open front driver’s side window what was happening, Watson said one officer smashed out her rear window while another dragged her from the vehicle and threw her on the ground.

“I don’t wish this on any young female. Any young male. I don’t wish this on anyone,” Watson said. “Like, them actually putting the taser to my neck after realizing they still had the wrong person…It was just very frightening for me. For them to leave me in the street, alone, just hysterically crying and no one could tell me what’s going on.”

“They couldn’t even give me an apology or anything, and it just amazes me that there seems to be no body cameras or no nothing,” Watsons said. “It’s just really crazy to me that I’ve really had to go through this. I’ve been speaking to a psychologist because this has really took a toll on my mental [wellbeing]. Like, this is really crazy.”

“What is happening to Black Americans throughout Delaware and across this nation is unacceptable, and this is why we continue to push for legislative change. This is why we call for accountability in our communities,” the NAACP’s Coby Owens said. “The fact that these officers walked away from this case and we don’t know their badge numbers or their names is despicable. The fact that [there’s] yet another traumatic event in Wilmington that hurts the Black community is now bringing us all together yet again.”

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for pain and suffering, assault and battery, false imprisonment, gross negligence, and Constitutional rights violation.

Delaware Newsline has reached out to Delaware State Police for comment on the case, but at the time of publishing of this tory, has not received a response.

This isn’t the first time an outside law enforcement went into the city of Wilmington to conduct police business without notifying or seeking assistance from Wilmington Police Department.

In it’s first shooting of the year, New Castle County Police said officers were investigating a suspicious vehicle in the area of Rosemont Ave and East 24th Street in the City of Wilmington around 1:00 a.m. January 13, 2021, but many question why the officers were investigating in the city when Wilmington has it’s own police force.

“When the officers began approaching the vehicle, it sped off away from them towards a dead end street.,” Said police spokesman Michel Eckerd.

It was then that police say the vehicle, upon making a U-turn at the dead end, began accelerating at the officers at a high rate of speed. However, video footage of the shooting by the officers body worn cameras show a different story.

“The officers subsequently discharged their firearms and struck the driver.,” Eckerd said at the time. “The officers immediately rendered first aid and were later assisted by other emergency medical personnel. However, the driver was pronounced dead at the scene.”


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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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