Cop Brutality Caught on Tape, Family Says
FORT WORTH (CN) - After slamming a girl to the ground from behind, an Arlington police officer pepper sprayed her and then said "almost apologetically" that he had to give her a citation "to explain to my boss why I sprayed you," the girl's family claims in court.
The parents, Julie and Kirk Perry, and their daughter, K.P., sued Arlington, its police Officer Dylan Eckstrom and unidentified officers, in Tarrant County Court.
"This case is about a large police officer caught on tape body slamming a child onto the pavement," the family says in the complaint.
The Perrys say their daughter was assaulted by two other girls as she left an end-of-summer party on Aug. 9.
"Though hit in the head from behind, she soon heard the taunts of two teens known to her, because they had bullied her in the past," the complaint states. "The teens then obstructed K.P.'s path and tried to goad her, her sister and their friend to fight."
A witness filmed the ensuing brouhaha, and the video made its way onto YouTube, the family says.
"On camera, Officer Eckstrom, who appears to stand more than 6'0" tall and weigh between 190 and 220 pounds, goes up to the 5'4" girl and grabs her upper body from behind, heaves her upward so that her feet travel more than a foot off the ground and then slams her back first onto the pavement," the complaint states. "Seeing the burly officer body-slam the 116 pound girl, the stunned crowd releases a collective, 'Ooh.'
"When Officer Eckstrom slammed K.P. into the paved parking lot, the girl banged her head and hurt her back and neck. The abuse did not end with the body slam, though. At some point, Officer Eckstrom scraped her face on the pavement. And though K.P. had never resisted him, Officer Eckstrom inexplicably pulled out his pepper spray and doused her in the face at close range as he pressed her lifeless body to the ground. The spray severely burned her skin and open wounds hours later."
The family claims Eckstrom then "adds further injury by spinning her onto her face whereby he gratuitously scrapes it on the pavement in multiple places.
After K.P.'s mother complained to police at the station about the pepper spraying, "Officer Eckstrom later explained to the girl, almost apologetically, why he had to give her a citation for fighting in public," the complaint states. "'I had to give you a ticket,' he said to the girl, 'to explain to my boss why I sprayed you.' K.P.'s family and friends who likewise had multiple interactions with Officer Eckstrom and other officers found their statements to be incredible insults that added to her injuries."
The family seeks discovery, so they may depose so-far unidentified witnesses.
They are represented by Geoff Henley in Dallas.