A taxicab driver who was assaulted last year by an off-duty Scottsdale police officer is now suing the city and officer in Maricopa County Superior Court.
The suit says Omar Abdi, a Somali-born immigrant, no longer trusts local police because of the verbal and physical confrontation that took place last April when he picked up officer Chance Lovell outside a Tempe bar.
It also says Lovell used racial slurs and blamed Abdi for the death of his brother, who died in Somalia.
Filed a week ago, the suit comes after an unsuccessful demand by Abdi and his lawyers that Scottsdale pay him $750,000 for the trauma of the experience.
It asks for damages and attorney’s fees, but it doesn’t name a price.
Even though Lovell was off-duty at the time of the incident, Abdi is suing Scottsdale because he says the city “is responsible for the actions of its officers and employees.”
Scottsdale City Attorney Deborah Robberson did not return a call for comment, and neither did Abdi’s attorneys, Joel Robbins and Anne Findling.
A spokesman for the police department declined to comment.
According to a police report, Abdi picked up Lovell on April 9, 2007 at Mill Avenue and Fifth Street, the site of several bars and restaurants. The two drove around in circles because Lovell couldn’t decide where he wanted to go.
At some point, the report states, Lovell became verbally abusive, telling Abdi he should be enslaved and threatening him with arrest.
When Lovell tried to grab the steering wheel, Abdi stopped the car at a gas station and told Lovell to get out. Outside the car, Lovell then punched Abdi twice, the report states.
A Tempe Municipal Court judge suspended Lovell’s guilty plea and later dismissed the case after he completed an adult diversion program.
Lovell remains an officer and was reassigned from his post in the K-9 unit to a desk job last June.