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Teen Says He Was Beaten After Cop Used His Phone to Set Up Drug Buy

JACKSON, Tenn. (CN) - A high school student was beaten unconscious after a police officer used his cell phone to set up a drug buy from a suspected pot dealer, the boy and his parents claim in Federal Court. They sued the Trenton police officer who made the call, the city, police chief and state, and the West Tennessee Violent Crime and Drug Task Force.

Plaintiff Logan Rice was 17 at the time of the Dec. 5, 2009 fiasco.

According to the complaint, Robertiello stopped Rice as he drove away from "a residence that was being watched by police for suspicion of drug activity."

While searching the car and its occupants, "Officer Robertiello did find a small amount of marijuana in the pocket of one of the vehicle's passengers.

"Upon finding the marijuana, Officer Robertiello ordered that one of the passengers send a text message to Jeremy Ward [the suspected pot dealer] ... whom Officer Robertiello suspected of selling the marijuana to the passenger, to arrange for another purchase of marijuana to be made. After the message was sent, Officer Robertiello then ordered Logan to drive back to the residence with Officer Robertiello to purchase the marijuana. The other two passengers remained with another officer while Logan and Officer Robertiello drove back to the residence. During the drive back to the residence, Logan questioned Officer Robertiello about whether he would be in any danger for engaging in this transaction because both Ward and Logan were students at the same school, Peabody High School. Officer Robertiello repeatedly assured Logan that he would be in no danger as a result of the purchase and told Logan that 'everything will be okay if you just cooperate.'

"Once Logan and Officer Robertiello arrived at the residence, Ward came out to the vehicle and denied having any marijuana for sale and returned to the residence. Soon after Logan and Officer Robertiello left the residence, Ward sent a message via text to Logan's cellular phone telling him to 'never do that again.' Upon information and belief, Officer Robertiello then began responding to Ward via text message using Logan's cellular phone, whereby Officer Robertiello pretended to be Logan.

"Logan and the two passengers were all taken to the Trenton Police Station where their parents were called and notified for the first time. Plaintiffs aver that they were never called prior to Officer Robertiello ordering Logan to participate in the attempt to purchase marijuana from Ward. Plaintiffs further aver that had they been notified prior to the attempted purchase of marijuana, they would not have consented to Logan participating in the attempted transaction."

To cap it off, the family says, the suspected pot dealer "was also brought to the

police station and placed in an area that allowed him to see that Logan and the two passengers were also at the station."

Two days later, Logan Rice was "violently assaulted" at school. He was knocked unconscious and taken to a hospital emergency room. The family says the boy or man who did it was a friend of the suspected pot dealer, who beat Logan "in retaliation for the attempted marijuana purchase from Ward that was ordered, arranged, and directed by Officer Robertiello."

The family demands punitive damages for conspiracy and constitutional violations. They are represented by Robert Thomas with Weinman & Associates of Jackson, Tenn.

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