Trial date set in civil lawsuit against Topeka Police officer in man’s arrest

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 9:20 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A trial date is set in a Topeka’s man federal civil lawsuit against a Topeka Police officer.

In his lawsuit, Timothy Harris claims TPD Officer Christopher Janes violated Fourth Amendment rights by using unreasonable force during a vehicle stop and subsequent arrest in January 2018. Harris contends he was complying with orders, but Janes pushed him to the ground, punched him, and used pepper spray.

However, in court documents, Janes states Harris became aggressive, and resisted arrest, which required him to use progressively higher levels of force to gain control.

According to court documents, Harris is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages. He also is requesting legal fees and expenses totaling nearly $200,000.

Janes is asking for legal fees and expenses totaling nearly $40,000.

The case is set for a jury trial May 31st. The City of Topeka previously was named as a defendant in the case, but has since been dropped.

The lawsuit claims Harris was sitting in his car with his girlfriend January 23rd, 2018, when Janes approached and started questioning him. Court documents state Harris had a warrant out for violating probation in a misdemeanor drug possession and interference case. Janes also had responded to a call earlier in the day in which a woman stated Harris had taken her laptop computer and other items.

The lawsuit alleges that when Harris stepped out of the car, the officer handcuffed his hands behind his back, then took him to the ground, put a knee in his back, repeatedly punched him in the face, and sprayed him with pepper spray. According to the lawsuit, Harris had a bloody face and broken jaw. The incident report from the night of the arrest states Harris declined medical attention at the time.

The lawsuit was filed in September 2018. Harris previously had filed no other complaint about the incident.

Topeka Municipal Court records show Harris later was found guilty of unlawful parallel parking, and interference with a law enforcement officer, but charges of disobeying a lawful police order and battery against an officer were dismissed.

A Topeka Police review of the incident found Janes acted reasonably.

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