Cop Says Police Beat Black, Off-Duty Brother

     PROVIDENCE (CN) – An off-duty police officer who caught a fleeing suspect claims in a federal lawsuit that he was beaten and arrested by the pursing police because he is black.
     Christopher Owens, a 10-year veteran with the city police department, says he was enjoying a day off with his sons when he saw a tow truck hit a car.
     Unbeknownst to Owens at the time, the driver of the tow truck, Sean Sparfven, had been under investigation by state police for suspicion of dealing in stolen vehicles.
     In fact, at the time of the accident, he was fleeing those officers after a confrontation during which he struck one of them, and was then the subject of a high speed chase.
     Owens says he was unsure was happening, could hear approaching sirens, but attempted to render aid to the female operator of the vehicle that had been struck.
     He says as she showed him her federal law enforcement credentials, he noticed that Owens was attempting to flee.
     “Owens pursued and tackled the tow truck driver and a violent struggle ensued,” the complaint states. “During the struggle, State Police, Providence Police and others arrived at the scene.”
     According to the complaint, rather than providing assistance in subduing the suspect, at least a half dozen officers pounced on Owens, handcuffing him, arresting him, and placing in the rear of a police car.
     Additionally, the complaint says, the officers beat up Owens’ son Tyler, who was well known to members of the Providence Police Department, having worked on undercover details in the past.
     Christopher Owens “never returned to work at the Providence Police Department, having suffered multiple physical injuries,” the complaint says.
     He claims he now receives “injured in the line of duty” benefits, and has been approved for a disability pension.
     Providence Police Department credited him with apprehending the tow truck driver and “acknowledged he was injured in the process,” the complaint states.
     Yet, the former officer says he and his son were treated “as criminals,” and that “one officer remarked that all he saw was a big black guy.”
     Providence Police Department acknowledged the officers’ treatment of Christopher and Tyler was “motivated by their race,” the complaint says.
     Owens and his son seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on claims of assault arrest, negligence, gross negligence, and negligent supervision and hiring.
     They are represented by Christopher O’Connor of Poore & Rosenbaum LLP in Providence.

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