The mother of a gay Stone Mountain man says a DeKalb police officer mocked her son by calling him “sissy,” threw him to the ground and injured him during an arrest for reckless driving.
Jèvon Thomas, 21, remains in the DeKalb County Jail, charged with reckless driving, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, obstruction and simple battery after Officer D. Webb arrested him Sept. 14 in the parking lot of a Target on LaVista Road in Tucker. Thomas (top photo) was arrested after being stopped for allegedly speeding on his way to work. Bond was set at $4,000 but Thomas is being held for an outstanding warrant from a 2011 case.
His mother, Juliana Spence, says the traffic stop escalated into an incident that left her son battered with visible injuries to his face, shoulders and wrists. A police report says that Webb threw a handcuffed Thomas to the ground – twice.
“He humiliated my son in the parking lot because he was gay in front of a lot of people. None of it was necessary,” Spence says. “I know that my son can be victimized easily. The officer not only humiliated him but beat him up.”
Spence says that as Thomas was stopped for speeding about noon on Sept. 14, he called her and turned his phone on speaker mode so she could listen to the interaction between her son and the police officer. During the traffic stop, Thomas stepped out of his Dodge Dart and approached the officer to explain that he was late to work. Spence says her son didn't know to remain in the car.
“My son is really young minded because we kind of kept him sheltered because he is gay. Even though he is 21, he's really like he is 16 or 17. He is never in trouble,” Spence says.
When Webb asked Thomas if he could search the vehicle, he consented. That's when Webb found a gram of suspected marijuana. Spence says it was in the bag of a friend of her son who rode in his car the night before. The incident report says the marijuana was found inside Thomas' purse. After finding the marijuana, Webb then taunted Thomas, Spence says.
“I have a pothead sissy with a purse,” Spence says she heard Webb tell her son. “You hear my son begging, pleading, crying. I try to tell Jèvon not to worry and to cooperate.”
'I pulled his body to the ground'
But an incident report from DeKalb police says Thomas was combative with Webb, fought with him and had to be thrown to the ground twice to help subdue him, even though he was handcuffed.
Thomas was stopped after a brief chase on I-285 and LaVista that reached speeds of more than 110 miles per hour. Webb states in the report that Thomas was speeding, crossing several lanes of traffic and driving up to 70 miles per hour on LaVista before stopping in the retail center, stepping out of the car and approaching Webb's patrol car.
“I drew my gun on him and ordered him back into the vehicle,” Webb writes in the report. “The driver continued to argue and sat back down inside of the vehicle.”
Webb writes that Thomas “appeared to be extremely nervous (shaking, sweating, flustered and in a hurry)” and told the officer he was late to work. When Thomas consented to the search of the car, Webb says Thomas emptied his purse and the small bag of marijuana was among the contents.
As Webb attempted to handcuff Thomas, the officer writes that the incident became physical.
“Mr. Thomas then became combative as I was escorting him to my patrol car by pushing his weight into me and attempting to elbow me in the face. I reacted in self-defense and put him to the ground by grabbing his left arm and sweeping his legs out from under him as I pulled his body to the ground,” Webb states.
Spence says her son tried to turn to tell the officer that the handcuffs were too tight. That's when his elbow brushed the officer, she says.
When Thomas was placed inside the patrol car, Webb writes that he heard Spence on the phone and went to retrieve the device from the backseat where Thomas was sitting. Then, Webb writes, Thomas again became combative as he tried to pull him from the vehicle.
“As Mr. Thomas exited, he then began throwing rear elbow strikes hitting me in the face. Mr. Thomas simultaneously was kicking me and scratching at my arms,” Webb writes.
That's when the officer grabbed Thomas around the waist, lifted him into the air and slammed him face first into the ground, according to the report. Webb then held Thomas by the arms with his knee in his back while a witness helped by “placing his weight on top of Mr. Thomas” as the officer radioed for help.
“Mr. Thomas sustained abrasions on his face, shoulders, hands and knees from the pavement during the struggle,” Webb states, adding that Thomas refused treatment by paramedics. Some of his injuries are visible in his jail mugshot (second photo).
'That broke my heart'
Spence says the handcuffs were too tight and that helped escalate the situation.
“He put the cuffs on him really tight. He's never experienced this before and he started screaming, 'you're hurting me.' The whole time he was crying and screaming how tight the cuffs were,” she says.
Spence says she could hear through the phone how aggressive the officer became during the stop.
“All I heard was craziness. I heard this man screaming at him, going crazy and I started crying. I heard a couple of thuds, but I wasn't physically there so I can't say. All I heard was craziness,” she says.
“I heard [Webb] call him sissy and that broke my heart,” Spence adds. “I heard him call him a sissy and make fun of him. I heard him hit the ground. I heard him scream about the phone.”
A spokesperson for DeKalb police provided the incident report to Project Q but did not respond to questions about Spence's allegations of excessive force during the arrest.
[top photo via; second photo from DeKalb County Sheriff]