CARY — A witness last year to a hostage situation has sued the Cary Police Department, claiming he was mistreated by police officers during the fatal standoff.
Lee Everett and Chapel Hill attorney Alan McSurely argue in a recent filing that Cary officers "detained and tortured" the 52-year-old Everett as he exited the former Wachovia Bank branch in western Cary, where 19-year-old Devon Mitchell held seven hostages for hours on Feb. 10.
The suit, filed Dec. 14, claims Everett was victimized because he was black.
The lawsuit requests compensation for Everett, disciplinary action against the unnamed officers involved and changes to Cary police protocols.
Everett went to the bank to discuss his late father's estate account, but he and a bank manager had barely sat down before 19-year-old Devon Mitchell vaulted a counter and grabbed a young bank employee and implied he had a gun, the lawsuit states.
After police arrived, Mitchell decided to free Everett and the bank's manager, who refused to leave the two young tellers, according to the lawsuit.
As he left the bank, Everett held his hands over his head as he said, "I'm a hostage," according to the court filing.
The lawsuit claims several officers grabbed Everett and "threw him violently on the cement sidewalk," where, it states, three officers kept their knees on his back, buttocks and neck. The filing claims that an officer yanked Everett's arm behind his back, then over his head, "ripping his shoulder muscles."
The suit claims that Cary police handcuffed Everett's wrists behind his back, lifted him by the back of his shirt and "dragged him across a field and over a construction fence."
Everett was treated after his release for a pulled shoulder, the claim states.
"Since this traumatic experience, his employer placed him on extended leave, he suffers from extreme emotional distress, and he has been treated by a psychologist," it concludes.
In its initial response, the town of Cary says the suit is meritless and opportunistic, citing District Attorney Colon Willoughby's finding in June that Cary police officers only forced Everett to the ground because he failed to comply with their commands.