COLUMBIA, Tenn. (CN) - City and county drug task force officers kicked in the door of a man recovering from lung cancer surgery, dragged him out of bed and handcuffed him, slammed him on the floor and held his son at gunpoint, and kept the sick man in cuffs even after they realized they were in the wrong apartment, the man and his son claim in Federal Court.
John A. Tidwell and his son, John P. Tidwell, say the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department Drug Task Force kicked the glass out of their front door at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 18.
A "plainly visible placard" distinguished the two apartments, A and B, the Tidwells say. They live in apartment B. Apartment A had been under surveillance for a week and an undercover agent had bought marijuana there, according to the complaint.
Nonetheless, the cops went in the wrong door, and "Once in the residence, officers handcuffed John P. Tidwell, throwing him violently on the floor at gunpoint," the complaint states. His father, John A., "was recovering from lung cancer surgery at the time of this incident. John A. Tidwell was dragged out of bed, handcuffed, and slammed on the floor by police officers. Upon realization that they had entered the wrong residence, the police left the plaintiffs in handcuffs for over 20 minutes while they entered, secured and searched Apartment A."
The Tidwells say they were not told about any search warrant at the time or why the officers were there.
John A. Tidwell was injured while being lifted from the floor, he says, and John P. Tidwell cannot sleep in the apartment anymore. He says he tries to sleep at a relative's house but can only manage a couple of hours a night.
They seek punitive damages from the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office and the City of Lawrenceburg, of civil rights violations, assault and battery, false arrest, outrageous conduct, negligence and malicious harassment.
They are represented by Rocky McElhaney of Nashville.
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