Dale Bryant, a Black man and double amputee who uses a wheelchair and lives alone in Taylor, is the loving owner of a German Shepherd puppy named King whom he adopted for companionship and to eventually train as a service animal. One day when King’s leg became entangled in his crate and Mr. Bryant was unable to free the dog, he called 911 to make sure the situation did not worsen and lead to an injury. But instead of sending help, the city sent police officers who made discriminatory comments about Mr. Bryant’s disability, accused him of mistreating King, took King into city custody, and filed criminal charges against Mr. Bryant. After the ACLU of Michigan helped Mr. Bryant retain a pro bono criminal defense attorney, it took nearly four months for charges to be dropped and for King to be returned home. We then discovered that Taylor maintains offensive policies warning its police officers that “persons with disabilities often rely on their disability to attempt to manipulate and control their environment,” and that individuals they encounter “may be handicapped, but they are not stupid, and expect you to empathize with their overt condition.” Unfortunately, Taylor is only one of many cities where emergency response personnel consist mostly of armed police officers who are trained to charge someone with a crime rather than social services equipped to address the needs of people with disabilities. In September 2022 we filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages for Mr. Bryant and new training and policies for Taylor police officers. (Bryant v. City of Taylor; ACLU Attorneys Syeda Davidson, Mark P. Fancher, and Dan Korobkin; Cooperating Attorney Jennifer Grieco of Altior Law; defense attorney Allison Kriger.)
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