LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CN) – A legally blind black man was attacked on the street by Little Rock police for no reason, he claims in a federal lawsuit accusing the city of training its officers to use excessive force against black citizens.
Eric Wilson sued the city of Little Rock, Police Chief Kenton Buckner and police officers Willie Christopher and John Comeau on Tuesday in Arkansas federal court. He claims the city trains its officers “to approach and detain citizens – especially African American citizens – without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.”
Wilson says in the lawsuit that he was walking down a public street in Little Rock in June 2015 “simply minding his own business” when two officers approached him for a supposed welfare check. He claims the officers had no probable cause or suspicion to detain him or check his identity, but that he complied with their shouting orders.
“Defendant Christopher grabbed plaintiff and threw him violently to the ground, causing injury, then Christopher handcuffed plaintiff and made plaintiff sit for several minutes on the sidewalk while the officers investigated plaintiff’s identity,” the complaint states.
Wilson claims he was eventually released without charges, but that both officers filed a false report saying he failed to follow orders and resisted efforts to be handcuffed. Wilson’s lawsuit says a video of the encounter contradicts the officers’ report.
“Plaintiff subsequently filed a formal complaint against the officers with defendants Buckner and the City of Little Rock. Representatives of the City of Little Rock stated that they investigated this matter thoroughly and reported that defendants Comeau and Christopher properly followed the policies and procedures of the City of Little Rock, thus ratifying the officers’ behavior and actions,” the lawsuit says.
Wilson also alleges that the city trains its officers to use excessive and unnecessary force against black citizens and failed to instruct officers to properly interact with disabled people.
He seeks compensatory and punitive damages for claims of unlawful detention and excessive force, emotional trauma, humiliation and embarrassment.
A similar lawsuit also filed Tuesday in federal court claims police in Shannon Hills, Ark., used excessive force when they attacked a man wanted on a misdemeanor warrant “for no reason and threw him to the ground.”
According to Kaleb Madison’s lawsuit, officers in the small town of 3,100 people fabricated police reports, and charges were dropped when one of their dash cams contradicted claims that he was resisting arrest and assaulting offices.
Madison claims the Shannon Hills police chief refused to take action against the two officers, “effectively covering up for them and ratifying their behavior, despite video evidence that their police reports were false.”
Both Wilson and Madison are represented by Reggie Koch of Little Rock.
Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter said that the city had not yet received Wilson’s lawsuit and declined to comment on it.
A city attorney for Shannon Hills did not immediately respond Thursday to an email requesting comment.