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Mojave Runner Says Officers Abused Him

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - After side-swiping a Native American runner with their squad car, San Bernardino County sheriff's officers beat him and called him a "stupid degenerate," the Mojave distance runner claims in court.

Trevor Arthur says he was jogging in running gear in Needles, wearing headphones, when a squad car side-swiped him and tossed him into a fence. Shocked and confused, Arthur says, he "immediately raised his hands in surrender" when he saw two officers approach him "fast" after bailing out of their cruiser. They tackled him, put him in a chokehold and legholds and put knee to his neck, 21-year-old Arthur says in the Feb. 11 federal lawsuit.

The officers told him, "You should have stopped running," and asked, "Are you one of those stupid degenerate natives? Or are you one of those Mexicans here in the valley?" Arthur says in the complaint. They continued to hurl racial slurs at him and slammed him to the ground and choked him at the police station, while he was still in handcuffs, Arthur says.

He sued the City of Needles, San Bernardino County and its sheriff, a sheriff's captain and Officers Pat McMullen and C. McCarthy, who he says are the ones who assaulted him on Feb. 24, 2014.

McCarthy told him he was making a "pedestrian check" when he saw Arthur, who he believed was Hispanic, running eastbound on the streets and into a dirt field, according to the complaint. Arthur says deputies have continued to harass and intimidate him when he goes jogging, and that he has been unable to find a job because employers "do not want to have problems with defendants."

Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said she had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on its allegations.

Bachman said in a telephone interview that Arthur was arrested at 3:30 p.m. at the corner of K and Market streets in Needles. He was charged with the misdemeanor of obstructing an officer and he released with at 5:36 p.m. on Feb. 24, she said.

Prosecutors charged him criminally on June 11, 2014, he pleaded not guilty, and his case was dismissed, according San Bernardino County Court records.

Arthur says the deputies did not activate their emergency lights and he had no idea they wanted him to stop. As they beat and insulted him, he says, he "responded by shouting to the people watching and recording the incident, 'Help! Somebody Please! The fucking Nazis are hurting me!'"

After taking him to the Colorado River Sheriff Station, he says, and continuing to abuse him with racist slurs, he "became angry and verbally responded," whereupon they "slammed him to the floor in handcuffs and choked him. He was charged and released three hours later with blood leaking from his head and his torso aching and throbbing. He says went to a hospital for treatment and his mother took photos of the injuries.

Arthur says his treatment was "caused in part by the unconstitutional practices, policies, or customs, both written and unwritten, that at all relevant times were in full force and effect by employees of defendants San Bernardino County Sheriff Department."

He seeks compensatory and punitive damages for constitutional violations and racially motivated misconduct.

He is represented by Stanley Hodge of Victorville, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment by phone and email Friday.

Before he was run over and beaten, Arthur says in the complaint, he was "a 'long distance' runner for the Fort Mojave Tribe of Native Americans, also known as 'Spirit Runners.'"

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