• Woman punched by APD officer during IHOP scuffle suing officer

    By: Tony Thomas


    ATLANTA - The woman who said she was punched by an Atlanta police officer during a late night visit to IHOP is now suing the officer.

    The Atlanta Police Department's internal affairs unit cleared Officer Jose Vidal of allegations of excessive force and recommended a written reprimand for him in May 2011.

    Now Ashley Leavell has filed a civil lawsuit against Vidal.

    Her attorney said the lawsuit was filed because the two-year statute of limitations is running out.

    And for the first time, Leavell is sharing cellphone video her phone recorded the night she was punched out by the law.

    The incident happened in April 2011 inside the now closed IHOP on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

    Vidal was working security for the restaurant and was kicking two women out for being too loud.

    "He punched her out. He hit her in the head," attorney Craig Jones told Channel 2's Tony Thomas.

    Leavell was in the next booth when she began recording video, then tried to get the cop's attention.

    APD said she struck the officer three times and Vidal reacted with reasonable force given the circumstances.

    "Now if she had a knife, if she had a weapon of some kind, if she was a threat, I could see him doing something like that," Jones said.

    A picture taken shortly after the punch, shows Leavell's reddened face. She's suing the officer and the company that ran the IHOP for use of unjustified force.

    "They should have to pay her medical bills, they should have to pay her lost wages, they should have to pay something for her injuries," Jones said.

    There is still an open case against Leavell for obstruction, battery and public drunkenness but she has never been prosecuted.

    Atlanta police will not comment since the department is not named specifically as a defendant in the case. Neither the company nor Vidal could be reached for comment.

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