Andalusia woman files lawsuit against police officer, city after alleged unlawful arrest

Published 4:17 pm Thursday, April 25, 2024

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An Andalusia woman at the center of an alleged unlawful arrest in February formally filed a federal lawsuit against the arresting officer and the City of Andalusia.

In the lawsuit, Twyla Stallworth alleges that she was unlawfully arrested and detained on February 23 for not providing identification when requested by Andalusia Police Officer John Barton. The suit further states that Stallworth was assaulted, strip-searched and jailed for 15 hours before being released on a $3,035 bond. Stallworth’s attorney said she was within her rights to deny providing an ID within her home. Charges against Stallworth have since been dropped.

The lawsuit names both Stallworth and her son, Jermari Marshall, as plaintiffs.

Stallworth is being represented by attorney Harry Daniels who said the incident began when Stallworth called the police multiple times to complain about a neighbor who was playing loud music. Receiving no response, Stallworth began setting off her car alarm in an effort to get the neighbor’s attention and convince him to turn down the music. Daniels said that while police did not respond to Stallworth’s calls, they did respond to the neighbor’s call about the car alarm. Stallworth is black while the neighbor is white.

City officials said that internal evidence, including camera footage, shows police did respond to Stallworth’s noise complaints.

The lawsuit states that the officer physically assaulted Stallworth’s son and then unlawfully entered the home where he then assaulted Stallworth in the presence of her son.

“When APD officer Grant Barton did respond to the neighbor’s complaint about Stallworth’s car alarm, he threatened to cite Stallworth while failing to address her original complaints. Frustrated by this, Stallworth pointed out the disparity as Barton was returning to his police cruiser suggesting it was racially motivated. At that point, Barton returned to the front porch and began demanding Stallworth’s driver’s license even though he had not made any such requests previously. In fact, Barton had been speaking with Stallworth at length but only started demanding identification after she mentioned racism,” according to Daniels.

It was at the time that Barton returned to the porch, Daniels said, that Marshall began recording on his phone because he felt the encounter between his mother and the police officer was escalating.

The lawsuit says that Stallworth has suffered emotional distress with “significant PTSD type symptoms” and that her son has suffered similar symptoms requiring psychological treatment.

“As a result of this incident, Ms. Stallworth suffered humiliation, embarrassment, physical injuries, and loss of freedom,” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Stallworth and Jermari were subjected to unlawful acts by Defendant Barton and the City of Andalusia all because Ms. Stallworth lawfully refused to give Defendeant Barton her identification card/driver’s license. Both Ms. Stallworth and Jermari now suffer from mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.”

Following the arrest, Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said Officer Barton had a “clean record” with the APD, adding that he “made a mistake in this case on Feb. 23” and that he has been disciplined for failing in his duty to know the law. He added that officers will receive additional training. The city council has already approved entering into a contract with a company that specializes in ongoing law enforcement training.

City of Andalusia Attorney Mark Christensen said the city has not been served a copy of the lawsuit and has no comment at this time.

The lawsuit filed can be seen here.

The video of the incident can be seen here.

Mayor Earl Johnson’s response can be seen here.

For more on this story, click here.