Family says Southfield Police paralyzed man in $20M suit, PD says he caused own injuries

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren called a press conference to address claims of police brutality as the family of a man claims their actions led to him being paralyzed from the neck down.

Barren called a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday to discuss the allegations that officers used excessive force against 27-year-old Clint Willis when he was arrested in early April.

"I can't really use my hands," Willis said.

Police were called to a home to a report of a man assaulting an elderly woman. Police said that woman was Willis' mother. Barren said that, once officers tracked him down, he assaulted one female officer and fought others while being taken into custody.

In bodycam video released by police, it shows Willis fighting against officers as they tried to arrest him. Once he was handcuffed, they walked him to a police car and loaded him in without further incident while the female officer was treated for a cut near her eye.

Barren then showed video of Willis walking into the Southfield Jail without handcuffs. 

Southfield Police Officers do not operate the jail – it's run by Allied Universal Security Services. 

The video shows the man getting into an argument with the guards as they tried to get him into a cell. Video from inside the cell shows three guards wrestling him onto the bed of the cell. 

As they tried to leave, he got up and blocked the door from closing. Guards again wrestled him to the cell bed. They were able to get out as he got up again and he ran from the back of the cell and then head first into the plexiglass wall.

A supervisor was called and he was taken to the hospital.

Barren said the video shows that the officers and guards at the jail did nothing wrong and he called the press conference to be transparent about what happened.

"Some of the family members and friends were looking to spearhead a protest regarding police misconduct and police brutality. But they were functioning off of no information. I did learn they hired an attorney. I called down to our records division to ask did the attorney even pick up the information that was FOIA’d. The information was no one had retrieved those items," Barren said.

Jail video is not something that can be FOIA'd and Barren said the effort of being fully transparent was so that everyone knew exactly what happened.

"That way if the family and friends still want to protest, certainly protest. But now you have the information that is centered around your loved one. You will see no police brutality. You see any force used by Southfield Police Officers and even Allied Universal was appropriate under the circumstances. Any injuries suffered by Mr. Willis are self-inflicted injuries," Barren said. "I stand with my officers. I stand with Allied Universal as well."

The family attorney said the "victim's neck was broken during the attack" and that he's paralyzed from the neck down as a result. 

They're seeking $20 million in damages against the police department and plan a press conference this weekend in front of the Southfield Police Station on Evergreen.