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Pharmacist Says|Police Shot at Him

(CN) - Waynesboro, Miss., police officers used unnecessary force to arrest a pharmacist on fabricated charges, a federal lawsuit claims.

James Cooley Sr. sued the city of Waynesboro, Waynesboro Police Chief Oscar Lewis and Officer Brent Purcell, in the Hattiesburg, Miss., Federal Court, claiming wrongful arrest, defamation and deprivation of property and liberty.

Other defendants included the Waynesboro Board of Aldermen, Wayne County, the Wayne County Board of Supervisors and Sheriff Daryl Woodson.

According to the Cooley's complaint, the incident occurred on Sept. 17, 2013, after the pharmacist left his attorney's office. An officer in an unmarked truck allegedly rammed into the back of Cooley's vehicle, which was located in Cooley's own driveway.

According to the complaint, officers then began firing at Cooley and his passenger.

"Officer Purcell and another officer took out their assault weapons and began shooting at Mr. Cooley and his passenger. Bullets struck all around them, and we all know that regardless of whether the officers were trying to shoot out tires, frighten them, or kill one or both of them, bullets hitting metal and rubber can be deflected in any direction and maintain their lethal ability," Cooley says.

He alleges the officer then filed criminal charges against him "as an act to cover his criminal behavior."

Prior to the incident, Purcell and other officers had allegedly attempted to recruit people to entrap Cooley in an illegal drug sale, something Cooley says he has never done.

Approaching former employees and other members of the community, officers allegedly told them "it was only a matter of time before Mr. Cooley was caught illegally selling drugs."

Another time, Cooley says he was "tricked" into thinking he had "a purchaser for a gun safe in Alabama." While on his way to Alabama to conduct the sale, he was stopped and arrested at a purported safety check. According to the complaint, "a professional cameraman was on hand to aid in the harassment and defamation of Mr. Cooley."

In addition to the federal claims, the complaint also cites multiple state violations, including false arrest, false imprisonment, slander, assault, battery, criminal conversion, civil conspiracy and negligent infliction of mental and emotional distress.

A second plaintiff, Brandie Brewer, was a passenger in Cooley's car during the arrest and shooting incident.

The plaintiffs are seeking $50 million in compensatory damages on the federal claims, and $1 million in damages for the alleged state violations. They're also seeking $100 million in punitive damages. The plaintiffs are represented in the matter by Gulfport attorney Michael Crosby.

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