Lawrence skateboarder injured during arrest files federal lawsuit against police department, others

photo by: Sara Shepherd/Journal-World File Photo

In this file photo from July 3, 2019, Lawrence resident Duc Tran is pictured in downtown Lawrence. Tran says his left elbow was fractured when a Lawrence police officer arrested him in June 2019.

A Lawrence skateboarder who was injured during a police stop has filed a lawsuit against Lawrence and Douglas County law enforcement agencies.

Duc M. Tran, 45, filed a federal complaint on Friday that alleges Tran “was unconstitutionally beaten, injured, arrested, prosecuted, and eventually exonerated on charges manufactured” by local law enforcement.

The lawsuit alleges excessive force, battery, negligence, failure to train and supervise law enforcement staff and malicious prosecution. The lawsuit also asks the court to award compensation to Tran from the defendants.

The defendants in the lawsuit are listed as former Lawrence police officer Brad Williams, who arrested Tran, former Lawrence Police Department Chief Gregory Burns, former Chief Assistant District Attorney Amy McGowan and former Assistant District Attorney LeTiffany Obozele. Also named are LPD, the City Commission, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Douglas County Commission.

Tran was arrested after he was stopped for skateboarding in the street in downtown Lawrence on June 29, 2019, as the Journal-World reported. Tran previously told the newspaper that his left elbow was fractured and both shoulders were dislocated as a result of his arrest, and he had scrapes on his shoulders and leg.

Williams had alleged that Tran had threatened him with his skateboard and resisted arrest; Tran said he did protest being arrested, but that he never threatened the officer. Tran was later charged with three misdemeanors: interference with law enforcement, assault of a law enforcement officer and failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer or firefighter.

Tran’s defense attorney Mark Schoenhofer argued that the case should be dismissed because evidence in a previous case created questions about the credibility of Williams. Schoenhofer also said that both LPD and Douglas County prosecutors were legally obligated to provide Tran’s defense team with information about that case, but that neither did.

The case was ultimately dismissed in November 2020 after prosecutors filed a “notice of reconsideration.”

In the new lawsuit, Tran and his attorneys alleged the incident was a “gross miscarriage of justice” because Williams “attributed fabricated statements and false actions to Mr. Tran in a manufactured police report to conceal the true nature of the event.” They also alleged prosecutors pursued “false and manufactured criminal charges.”

Williams resigned from LPD in January.

Defendants in the lawsuit have not yet filed responses. Officials for the LPD did not immediately respond to the Journal-World’s request for comment.


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