CHAMPAIGN — Pending council approval next week, the city of Champaign has settled a federal lawsuit filed by a 16-year-old who claimed he was arrested with excessive force for $74,500.
Tavion Jones-Premo, now 18, alleged that he was grabbed and forced to the ground when he was arrested Dec. 28, 2018.
“The settlement the parties reached is a fair resolution of the matter,” said his attorney, Shawn Barnett. “Tavion was a 16-year-old Black kid who was subjected to excessive force and arrested by members of the Champaign Police Department for no justifiable reason.”
And he hopes the case pushes the Champaign Police Department to adopt new policies.
“While the settlement does not mean the City of Champaign admits liability, I do hope that the Champaign Police Department recognizes that this type of treatment towards young Black kids is not to be tolerated in this society and implements new training and policies to change how law enforcement acts towards minorities,” Barnett said.
The payment would be made from the city’s Retained Risk fund.
City Attorney Fred Stavins said the proposed settlement was reached because “both the City and the plaintiff saw the benefit of avoiding the additional expense of litigation and agreed on a settlement.”
After reviewing all the facts in the case, and considering the legal fees and expenses on both sides of the litigation, the proposed settlement was determined to be in the best interests of both parties.”
Jones-Premo was arrested after he had been dropped off shortly after midnight at the home of a relative. Police were investigating a report of a gunshot and stopped the car driving Jones-Premo in the driveway.
Officer Jordan Hagemann asked to speak with Jones-Premo, who had already walked from the car to his relative’s home, according to the lawsuit.
After his relative said Jones-Premo wouldn’t speak to the police, officer Timothy Atteberry then allegedly grabbed at Jones-Premo.
Officer Dane Kaldahl then allegedly helped Atteberry by grabbing Jones-Premo’s left arm and twisting it behind his back to force him to the ground.
Kaldahl allegedly “put his hand on TJP’s neck and pushed him into the mud,” according to the lawsuit.
Jones-Premo was then taken to a police car and not released from custody until more than 10 hours later, the lawsuit says.
The arrest also led to his probation being revoked, and he had to spend 10 days in a juvenile correctional facility, the suit says.
The lawsuit said there was “no basis — either probable cause or even reasonable suspicion — to detain TJP for any offense,” which the city denied in its formal response to the suit.
“The report of shots fired was from the vicinity of the Western Bowl, and the house where the car had just pulled up was almost directly across from Western Bowl,” Stavins said.
None of the individuals in the car, including Jones-Premo, were charged with anything related to the gunshot, Barnett said.
As part of the proposed settlement, Atteberry, Kaldahl and other officers were dismissed as defendants in the lawsuit.