Suit says police held wrong woman at gunpoint, damaged car


WILMINGTON, Del. — A woman is suing Delaware State Police alleging that plainclothes officers in unmarked cars blockaded her in her car and held her at gunpoint before they realized she was not the person they were looking for.

As Martiayna Watson, 20, left a gas station in Wilmington on June 24, she said her car was cut off and surrounded by four cars and one car hit hers from behind, news outlets report.

The officers got out with guns drawn and pointed them at Watson, according to the suit. One officer broke the driver’s side rear window and another pulled her out of the car.

“I thought I was about to be kidnapped,” Watson said at a news conference in which the lawsuit was announced.

When Watson started to cry and ask what was going on, according to the lawsuit, an officer put a stun gun to her neck and said, “I’m going to —- you up.”

But eventually, an officer said, “I think we have the wrong person,” and they drove away, according to the suit. The officers were searching for a Black man and woman in a dark gray Nissan Maxima, after a pawn shop robbery, and Watson, a Black woman, was driving a light gray Nissan Altima, according to her lawyer Emeka Igwe.

The lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court, seeks damages for “extreme emotional pain and suffering,” citing claims of excessive force, false arrest, assault and battery, and negligence.

Watson said the 10-minute encounter left her traumatized.

“I can’t even drive without thinking something is going to happen to me,” Watson said. “I’m so scared, and I did nothing wrong.”

A state police sergeant and lieutenant later apologized and offered money to help fix her car, Igwe said.

Watson and her lawyers haven’t been able to learn the officers’ names.

Delaware State Police did not respond to questions about any support Watson received, whether the cars have dash cameras or whether an internal investigation is being conducted, The News Journal reported.

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