Salisbury settles suit with woman pulled out of car by hair in 2019 incident

Published 6:45 pm Thursday, September 28, 2023

SALISBURY — A lawsuit concerning a 2019 incident where an elderly woman was pulled out of her car by her hair has been settled by the city of Salisbury and Rowan County, a spokesperson for the city confirmed.

Georgia native Stephanie Bottoms will receive $125,000 as a result of the settlement. Bottoms was pulled out of her car by police officers during a traffic stop, which the lawsuit said tore her rotator cuff. The tear prevented her from raising her left hand above her head.

Bottoms admitted in the lawsuit that she was speeding, going 80 mph in a 70 mph zone, but said that she was playing her music loudly in the car and did not realize she was being pulled over by the police. The police followed Bottoms for 14 miles before deploying spike strips to stop her.

Once she was stopped, the lawsuit said that officers pulled Bottoms out of the car by her hair and twisted her arm behind her back, which resulted in the rotator cuff tear.

Photos included in the lawsuit appear to show Bottoms being pulled by her hair, officers approaching the car with guns drawn and pinning Bottoms to the ground.

One of the officers named in the lawsuit, Devin Barkalow, no longer works for the Salisbury Police Department. Barkalow was the officer who pulled Bottoms out of the car. The other officers named in the suit were Salisbury officer Sergeant Adam Bouk and Rowan County Master Deputy Mark Benfield.

The lawsuit included a quote from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office’s use of force report, that Bottoms’ lawyers said showed the use of force was unnecessary.

“It is my opinion that had MD Benfield been afforded the opportunity to talk the female out of the vehicle a little longer she would have eventually complied. The use of force used by the other agency officer would have been greater force necessary to handle the situation given the circumstances,” said Lt. Kevin Myers in the quote included in the lawsuit.

Rowan County had previously settled their part of the lawsuit before Salisbury’s recent settlement.