Many speak out after use-of-force at a Northampton traffic stop

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) – An update on a story we brought to you last week, a traffic stop caught on video that has many people talking. Now, we’re hearing from the lawyer representing the woman who was seen forcibly pulled from her car by a Northampton police officer.

Attorney Dana Goldblatt is representing Marisol Driouech in this case. She shared with Western Mass News her reaction to the dashcam footage and what the next legal steps are for her client.

Police dash cam video obtained by Western Mass News last week reveals what took place this past April when 60-year-old Marisol Driouech was forcibly pulled from her car by Northampton police Officer John Sellew after a traffic stop for a broken headlight and failure to pull-over.

We’ve learned an internal investigation by the Northampton Police Department and review by the Northwestern District Attorney’s office found Sellew’s use of force to be within the department’s policies.

We reached out to Attorney Dana Goldblatt who is representing Driouech in this case. They are considering a lawsuit against the city.

She shared with Western Mass News her thoughts on seeing the footage for the first time.

“It’s just devastating and upsetting to watch to see a woman of her age is appalling,” expressed Goldblatt. “So, it’s upsetting on that level.”

Goldblatt told Western Mass News, English is not Driouech’s first language.

She added, the language barrier played a key role in how the traffic stop escalated into a physical altercation.

“She couldn’t understand what he was saying, and he was frustrated with that,” added Goldblatt. “That’s very clear from the video.”

Goldblatt told us the first step in the legal process is to send a written claim to the city.

This will give the city the opportunity to settle the case.

However, if a settlement is not reached Goldblatt said they could go ahead with a lawsuit.

Potentially having their case heard in front of a jury.

“The goal of any lawsuit is to make her whole,” said Goldblatt. “She was injured, and we want to her to the position she was in before this happened to her.”

Over the weekend, protestors in Northampton rallied in support of Driouech, condemning the actions of Officer Sellew.

Goldblatt told us that the rally gave her client an emotional boost as the case continues to develop.

“The show of support that she has gotten from the community has been really, really helpful,” expressed Goldblatt. “This week was the first time that she was able to watch the video. Getting to see that there was a rally in Northampton on her behalf. That’s saying people support you, we want you in our city, we support you being here and we’re sorry this happened to you.”

We spoke with Northampton Police Chief Jody Kaspar last week, and she told us that while this was not found to be a case of improper use of force, she did admit communication from the officer was not effective.

She also told us Officer Sellew was never suspended but did attend two verbal de-escalation classes in June and July.

Western Mass News reached out to the department and the mayor’s office for comment on Tuesday, and we have yet to hear back.

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