Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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It Was So Unfair, Occupy D.C. Guy Says

WASHINGTON (CN) - A saucy Occupy D.C. protester sued the United States, claiming a policewoman Tasered him after he said: "You want us to clean up the trash in the park, right? Well here's your fucking trash, you fucking pigs."

Ryan Barton Lash, of Glenrock, Pa., sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

He claims a Park Police officer Tasered him after he uttered a string of obscenities during the Occupy D.C. "vigil" in McPherson Square on Jan. 29.

"A group of Park Police officers approached the tent in which plaintiff was located and stated that they were posting notices," Lash says in the complaint. "Plaintiff responded that he already had received plenty of notices.

"A Park Police officer then threw a notice into the tent where plaintiff was located. Plaintiff threw the notice out of a corner of the tent. A Park Police officer picked up the notice from the ground and threw it back into the tent where plaintiff was located.

"The notices being handed out by the Park Police officers concerned the government's intent to enforce the no-camping regulations in the coming days.

"Plaintiff emerged from the tent and told the group of Park Police officers that he would be participating in a 'sleep strike' and would not be going to sleep for days. The group of Park Police officers then walked away.

"Plaintiff then started chanting 'Fuck your notices' and removed two notices from other tents. Officer Jennifer Lemke informed plaintiff that if he took down another notice, he would be arrested for disorderly conduct. After this warning, plaintiff ceased taking down the notices and walked away.

"As plaintiff was walking away, he said to a group of Park Police officers, 'You want us to clean up the trash in the park, right? Well here's your fucking trash, you fucking pigs.' Plaintiff then crumpled up the notices he had removed and placed them in the trash."

At that point, Lash says, the officers cornered him, though he was complying with their order not to remove any more notices.

"Plaintiff did not know why the group of Park Police officers were coming up to him so he said 'Why are you coming at me?' and began walking around the park," the complaint states. "Plaintiff was scared because he had seen Park Police assault protesters before. Although plaintiff was walking around the park, he did not attempt to run away or escape.

"The Park Police officers did not explain to plaintiff why they were approaching him. Plaintiff did not think that the Park Police were going to place him under arrest because he had complied with the order not to take down any more notices. However, had the Park Police simply told plaintiff that he was going to be arrested, he would have put his arms behind his back. Plaintiff was walking away because he thought that would help defuse the situation."

Lash claims he did not resist when the officers grabbed his arms and pulled them behind his back. He says that even though he was immobilized, Officer Lemke Tasered him from behind and he fell down, with "neuromuscular incapacitation" and "vasovagal syncope."

Two other officers handcuffed him as he lay on the ground, and then Lemke zapped him with the Taser again, Lash says.

He claims he continues to feel "ghost pains" on his back where he was shocked, suffers from panic attacks, and "sometimes hears nonexistent clicks and feels pain where the Taser probes had attached to him."

Afterward, Lash claims, Lemke claimed, falsely, that she had warned him he would be Tasered if he did not stop resisting. He claims she did this to cover up her use of excessive force.

The individual officers are not named as defendants. The only defendant is the United States. Lash says Park Police ignored his administrative claim for damages.

He seeks compensatory damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

He is represented by Jeffrey Light.

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