71-year-old Jethro DeVane is suing the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina for an incident that occurred on Jun. 3, 2019 in which he was forced from his home in the middle of the night at gunpoint, and had to stand outside, naked while officers searched his home without a warrant.
DeVane said he was asleep at home when he woke up to officers shining lights inside his window. When he peeked to find out what was going on, the officers pointed a gun at him and ordered him to step outside.
Newly released body cam footage shows officer Vincent Mentesana cursing at him and telling him not to close the door.
Mentesana orders him to stand facing the wall naked at 4 a.m. with a gun to his head for 90 seconds as officers illegally searched his home. When DeVane asks what’s going on, Mentesana responds, “I don’t want to talk to you.”
“I did what the man said,” DeVane said at a press conference on Tuesday. “He had the weapon. He could have took my life in a minute.”
The officers were searching for four teens who had allegedly broken into a nearby car.
The Rock Hill PD said officers thought the teens could have run inside what appeared to be an abandoned residence, despite DeVane being inside, according to ABC News. They added that DeVane’s home was searched in the interest of public safety and once officers were able to verify his identify they left the scene.
At Tuesday’s press conference DeVane said he was embarrassed and he feared for his life; that if he tried to close the door, grab some clothes or argued, the officer with the gun to his head would fire his weapon according to the Associated Press.
DeVane’s attorneys Justin Bamberg and Julie Beeks, assert that the officers conducted an illegal search of his home.
“He is pulled out of this house at 71 years old, completely naked,” Bamberg said during Tuesday’s press conference. “Is this how we want our law enforcement officers policing neighborhoods? No, it’s not.”
“Why do we have to be here advocating for human decency and human dignity? It is utterly ridiculous and it is unacceptable,” he added. “And it needs to stop before there is a death. God forbid, if Mr. DeVane had panicked like a lot of people would and tried to close that door.”
The officer involved, Vincent Mentesana requested a transfer from the police department to Rock Hill’s utility department in February.