The Village of Lansing, is preparing to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an African-American teen boy who was restrained and threatened by an off-duty cop last year.
The incident occurred on June 24, 2017 after 15-year-old Jordan Brunson came up to officer William Mason’s house. Brunson wanted to meet a friend who was involved in a fight and hid out at Mason’s house from his assailants. When it came time for Brunson and his friend to leave the officer’s home, Mason allegedly wouldn’t let them go.
According to the lawsuit, Mason pinned Brunson down to the ground and threatened to kill him. The 15-year-old struggled for breath and begged the officer to release him. Then, a woman standing behind Mason, identified in police reports as his fiance, said that she was going to get a rifle. Brunson’s friend recorded the incident on his cellphone camera.
When police came to Mason’s home, he released Brunson and said that he didn’t want to press charges against the teens for trespassing on his property. He said that he didn’t let the teens go because he thought they may have been committing burglaries in the area.
Brunson and his father went to the Lansing police station the next day to show officers the video of what happened. After they found out the man who restrained Brunson was a police officer, the teen’s father wanted to press charges.
A month later, the family filed a civil rights lawsuit against Mason and the Village of Lansing, accusing the officer of using excessive force and inflicting emotional distress on the teen.
Last October, the police department suspended Mason for 200 hours without pay and ordered him to go to re-training de-escalation techniques, arrest search and seizure and use of force. When Mason returned to work, he had to ride along with a field training officer for five patrol shifts before he was allowed to work alone.
Lansing officials said they decided to settle the lawsuit for financial reasons and didn’t admit to liability or illegal conduct.
“Although the village was confident it would prevail at trial, the costs involved were likely going to be high and the settlement amount reached in the agreement was low,” they explained. “Eventually it became a business decision on the part of the insurance company.”
The Village of Lansing is scheduled to vote on the $70,000 settlement on Tuesday.
“Now that the lawsuit is resolved, the Brunson family can move beyond this unfortunate and tragic incident,” Andrew M. Stroth, the family’s attorney, said.