Police chaplain accused of using excessive force against autistic teen


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A parent of an autistic teenager is suing the Lexington Police chaplain and the City of Lexington for a combined $1.5 million.

According to the federal lawsuit, the family is suing Police Chaplain Donovan Stewart for $1,000,000. The lawsuit claims in February of 2019, the chaplain used excessive force when responding to an incident at Fayette Mall.

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Police say the teen was with friends and the group was apparently being disorderly in several stores.

The lawsuit also claims the City of Lexington is responsible for not properly training Stewart on how to approach situations involving someone with autism. According to the lawsuit, the family is also suing the city for $500,000.

Cell phone video of the incident from a bystander shows the accused chaplain punching the teen several times before someone intervenes. Previously, police said the teen hit the officer in the face.

The lawsuit says the teen suffered not only physical injuries, but emotional distress from the incident.

The Lexington Police Department and the city do not comment on pending lawsuits.

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Bobbi McSwine joined the ABC 36 News Team in March 2020. She started as a Web Content Producer in November 2019. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, known to many as the “Windy City.” She studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. While in school, she had a number of internships ranging from Free Spirit Media, ABC 7 Chicago and Illinois Public Media. She fell in love with writing in high school and paired that with a newfound passion for storytelling in college. She misses her hometown, but she loves the horses and rich history in Lexington. When she’s not working, she’s probably listening to music or binge-watching Netflix. She’s always looking to get to know more people in Central Kentucky, so feel free to shoot her a message on Facebook @BobbiWTVQ, follow her on Twitter @McSwineB_News, or send her an email at bmcswine@wtvq.com.