Six Arrestees Sue Ferguson for Millions
ST. LOUIS (CN) - Six people sued Ferguson, Mo., and its police force for millions of dollars on Thursday, claiming they were assaulted and falsely arrested during the two weeks of racial unrest in the city.
Lead plaintiff Tracey White sued on her own behalf and for her minor son, W.D.
Named as defendants are Ferguson and its Police Chief Thomas Jackson, St. Louis County and its Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson police Officer Justin Cosma, and city and county John Doe police officers.
The plaintiffs claim they were "subjected to unnecessary and unwarranted force, arrests that were not based upon probable cause, and other violations of their constitutional rights."
Nightly protests began after Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown Jr., 18, on Aug. 9. Brown was black. Wilson, like nearly all of Ferguson's police officers, is white.
The plaintiffs claim they were all "victims of the atrocities committed by the defendants during the period of August 11-13."
White claims that Officer Cosma arrested her and her son, with unnecessary force, after a church-sponsored "Peace and Love rally" on Aug. 13.
Plaintiff DeWayne Matthews Jr. claims that he was trying to walk to his mother's house on Wednesday night, Aug. 13, when about eight John Doe officers shot him with rubber bullets, though he had his hands in the air.
"Plaintiff Matthews fell into a creek or sewer," the complaint states. "Defendant John Doe officers pounced on him, slammed his face into the concrete, and pushed his head underwater to the point that he felt he was going to be drowned. Afterward, defendant John Doe police officers continued to assault him and spray him with O.C. spray.
"Plaintiff Matthews was arrested for allegedly 'failing to disperse' even though he had not been involved in any protests of any kind and was only in the neighborhood to check on his mother."
Plaintiff Kerry White claims he was photographing the protest on Tuesday night, Aug. 12, when an officer snatched his camera from his hand, took out its memory card and threw it to the ground. He was handcuffed and arrested for "failing to disperse."
Plaintiffs Damon Coleman and Theophilus Green claim they were photographing the protest on Monday night, Aug. 11, when officers saw them and "began shooting at them."
"Plaintiffs Coleman and Green raised their hands but the police continued to fire tear gas and what appeared to be stun grenades in their direction," the lawsuit states.
"Plaintiffs Coleman and Green were repeatedly shot with rubber bullets as the police continued to fire as plaintiffs Coleman and Green got on their knees and presented no threat.
"Plaintiffs Coleman and Green were subsequently placed under arrest on the unfounded charge of 'failure to disperse.'"
The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for assault and battery, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, failure to train and supervise, and civil rights violations.
Their lead counsel is Gregory Lattimer, of Washington, D.C.