NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A Norfolk State University student is suing a Virginia State Police Trooper and two State Police superintendents for excessive use of force that left him badly injured after a traffic stop in 2017.
Court documents say Veron E. Greenaway of Hampton was a full-time student and senior at NSU who had been scheduled to graduate in May 2017. He is seeking $5 million as compensation for “medical expenses, mental anguish, pain and suffering and punitive damages.”
According to the records, on February 6, 2017 at approximately 8:30 a.m., Greenaway was driving eastbound on I-64 near the Hampton Creek Bridge in Hampton when he drove onto the shoulder to get around a trailer blocking his lane. This is when Trooper Kristian Hughes activated his emergency equipment and initiated a traffic stop. Greenaway immediately stopped his vehicle.
Hughes approached Greenaway’s vehicle and opened the driver’s side door within seconds of the stop. Court documents say Hughes “quickly and forcibly removed” Greenaway from the vehicle by grabbing his upper arm and pulling him out of the vehicle. Hughes then pushed Greenaway into the door frame and slammed him to the ground, according to the records.
Records say Hughes was holding Greenaway’s left arm and upper body, which prevented Greenaway from protecting his face and jaw and breaking his fall when Hughes slammed him to the ground chin-first. The fall shattered Greenaway’s jaw and caused him to lose two teeth, one of which was left on the side of the highway.
According to the documents, Greenaway suffered contusions to his face and shoulder; lacerations to his jaw that required stitches and a broken jaw, requiring his jaw to be wired shut for approximately six weeks.
Hughes handcuffed Greenaway while Greenaway lay on the ground with Hughes on top of the student’s body, the documents say. Records also say Hughes forced Greenaway to remain handcuffed while on his stomach and face-down on the road for more than three minutes while he was bleeding form his mouth and chin.
The documents say during the time Greenaway was forced to lie on the ground, Hughes started questioning him without providing the student with his Miranda Rights. They also say Hughes began insulting and making disparaging comments toward Greenaway, which continued after Greenaway was allowed to sit up.
Hughes also accused Greenaway of trying to spit blood on him, stealing the Nike jacket he was wearing and “making other insulting accusations,” according to court documents.
Additional State Troopers and emergency medical personnel arrived at the scene, but the documents say Hughes refused to allow Greenaway to receive medical treatment until the student answered his questions. Records also say the other troopers did not help Greenaway or intervene to make sure he received medical attention; instead, they were said to have searched his vehicle and taken his picture.
Medics were eventually allowed to treat Greenaway at the scene and determine that his injuries required he be taken to the emergency room by ambulance. Greenaway was taken to the Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, and court documents say Hughes and the other troopers continued to question him.
Records also say Hughes and the other troopers denied Greenaway’s “repeated requests” to call his mother and his lawyer.
Doctors required Greenaway to be taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital the same day for more care due to the severity of his injuries.
To date, court documents say Greenaway’s medical bills total more than $40,000. The records state he requires a minimum of $6,500 in dental treatments to correct the damage, but the exact amount is unknown until the treatments begin. Records say Greenaway is unable to afford the treatments.
Because of his injuries, Greenaway was unable to graduate on time and was forced to withdraw from his classes and delay his graduation dates, according to court documents.
Court documents say Hughes filed “an inaccurate and intentionally misleading investigative report… in order to cover up his excessive use of force.”
The State Police Superintendents, Col. W. Steven Flaherty and Col. Gary T. Settle, are also being sued on the grounds that they “owed a duty” to Greenaway to “ensure their Troopers would not cause unprovoked harm.” Records say they encouraged police brutality by failing to train their troopers and adequately punish them.