In April 2016 white police officers in Taylor pulled over Calvin, a 26-year-old African American man, purportedly for running a stop sign. Jones’ wife and younger brother were also in the car at the time of the stop. During the encounter, the officers shattered Jones’ window, violently wrestled him from his car, and held him in a dangerous chokehold until he blacked out. 

Photo of Calvin Jones
After his arrest, Mr. Jones was stripped to his underwear and detained for several hours in a cold holding cell. These events began when Jones demanded an explanation for the stop before he would produce his license and registration. Although the officers were not legally obligated to provide an explanation at the time of the stop, doing so is widely considered proper police procedure in order to avoid escalation and reduce tension. 

After learning of the incident, the ACLU of Michigan arranged for Jones’ criminal defense, and his charges were dismissed. We also obtained disturbing dashboard camera footage of the entire episode. 

In May 2017 we filed an internal affairs complaint against the officers involved and publicly released the video footage.  In August 2017, the internal affairs complaint concluded with no finding of fault on the part of the officers, but the department revised its policies to require its police officers to advise all drivers they pull over of the basis for the stop. In addition, the department has instituted mandatory officer training on appropriate demeanor during a traffic stop and how to avoid confrontational situations. 

Since that time we have continued to investigate abuses by the Taylor police. We have obtained highly disturbing video footage of the Taylor police engaging in abusive conduct toward two other persons in the holding cell. In one case it was necessary for us to sue to obtain access to the video. 

(People v. Jones; ACLU of Michigan v. City of Taylor; ACLU Attorneys Mark Fancher and Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorneys Robert Riley of Honigman, Victoria Burton-Harris, and John Shea.)


Defending liberty