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Monday, December 11, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Not a Reasonable Request

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A tourist says police horse patrolmen arrested him for failing to follow their orders to "back the f - up," an order he tried to comply with but could not, because the policeman's horse was standing on his foot.

Matthew Watson, of Arkansas, was visiting Bourbon Street on a crowded night when he saw a man beating two women.

Watson says he tried to push his way through the crowd to intervene, but before he could get there another man punched the assailant in the face.

Watson watched two mounted policemen arrived up and put both men in handcuffs.

"As the officers ordered the crowd to back up, they began simultaneously to advance toward the location in which the plaintiff was situated," Watson says in his federal civil rights complaint.

"The plaintiff was actively complying with the orders of the officers ... and attempting to retreat from the location. As the plaintiff made progress backward and away from the scene, the hoof of Officer Y's horse came down on his foot - firmly rooting it to the ground.

"It was at this particular moment that despite experiencing considerable pain, the plaintiff calmly informed Officer Y that his horse's hoof was crushing his foot and that as a result he was unable to continue to comply with Officer Y's order to back up.

"Upon being informed of the plaintiff's regrettable predicament, Officer Y responded by shouting at the plaintiff to 'back the f - up.'

"Given the distressing amount of pain he was experiencing and his fear of sustaining permanent and disabling damage to his appendage, the plaintiff reacted by using his arms to attempt to push Officer Y's horse in order to dislodge his foot.

"Following the plaintiff's action, Officer Y pointed at the plaintiff and shouted for 'somebody' to 'arrest this guy.'

"At this point, Officer X arrived on foot and placed the plaintiff in handcuffs and escorted him to the location where the individuals involved in the aforementioned altercation had also been handcuffed and detained. The plaintiff was held in this location standing on his badly-injured foot for approximately an hour and a half. During this time, the plaintiff informed his detainers, officers X, Y, and Z that he was injured, in pain, and worried about the condition of his foot and explicitly expressed his desire to seek immediate medical attention. Additionally, the plaintiff explained on separate occasions to Officer X and Officer Y respectively, the series of events which led to his having been both injured and arrested - asserting the claim and confirming the fact that he was being falsely arrested."

Watson says police charged him with multiple bogus violations, among them interference with an investigation, public drunkenness and resisting or obstructing a police officer.

Those false charges were part of the officers' conspiracy to cover up his false arrest, Watson says. He was jailed for 2 days, during which he was given on Motrin for pain.

He says he needed surgery to repair his injured foot, which would not have been necessary had he been promptly attended to.

Watson seeks $100,000 in damages for mental anguish, emotional distress and civil rights violations. Named as defendants are the City of New Orleans and its police Officers X and Y.

Watson is represented by Seth Bloom.

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