Ball State police still face excessive force lawsuit

Ball State University
(WISH Photo, file)

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge’s recent ruling means Ball State University will have to settle or defend itself at trial in a two-year-old civil rights lawsuit filed by a hip-hop artist.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson dismissed claims by Djuane McPhaul, aka Juan Da God, that Ball State police falsely arrested him and deleted a cell phone video he shot of the April 2013 incident outside a bar near campus, The (Muncie) Star Press reported. But she declined to throw out McPhaul’s claim that university police used excessive force against him.

McPhaul was arrested for disorderly conduct, public intoxication and resisting arrest after he prevented officers from administering a field sobriety test to his friend, according to university police.

During his arrest, a Ball State police officer executed a “leg sweep,” which brought them both to the ground, and caused McPhaul’s cell phone to fly out of his hand. McPhaul claims that his cell phone was still recording when it flew out of his hands, so the officer wouldn’t have needed a security code to access it and delete the video.

Magnus-Stinson ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to support McPhaul’s claims that police deleted the video on his phone. She also ruled that police had probable cause to arrest McPhaul for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, but she determined that it’s less clear whether he resisted arrest, so the use of force may have been excessive.

McPhaul is representing himself in the lawsuit from prison, where he’s serving a two-year sentence stemming from a separate incident with Ball State police in December 2013. He’s seeking $200,000 in damages and wants the officers involved in the incident to be fired.

The lawsuit has cost Ball State more than $80,000 in legal fees so far.

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