August 29, 2014
Missouri Police Sued For $40 Million Over Ferguson Response

A group of five people who were on the receiving end of police violence during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this month have filed a lawsuit seeking between $40 and $50 million, MSN is reporting.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, alleges that police engaged in excessive militaristic tactics that amounted to civil rights violations, including "militaristic displays of force" which treated U.S. citizens "as if they were war combatants." Attorney Ronald Greene, who filed the suit, told reporters:

"This is a blatant example of how police handle African-Americans... how it can go terribly, terribly wrong. You have a right to peaceful assembly"
The suit names multiple defendants, including Police Chief Thomas Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson officer Justin Cosma, The City of Ferguson, St. and the city and county governments as defendants.

According to CNN, the suit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs, including:

  • Tracy White, who was at McDonald's with her son when police ""in what appeared to be army uniforms, carrying rifles and sticks and wearing helmets" ordered her to leave. When she protested, she was told to "shut up," then thrown to the ground and handcuffed.
  • Kerry White, who was shooting footage on his smartphone camera through his car window, when an officer grabbed his camera, "took out his memory card and threw it to the ground."
  • Dewayne Matthews, who was walking down the street when officers in military gear fired rubber bullets at him. He fell into some water in a ditch or sewer, when police officers "pounced on him, slammed his face into the concrete, and pushed his head into the water to the point that he felt he was going to be drowned."
  • Theophilus Green and Damon Coleman, what claim they were protesting peacefully when officers shot stun grenades and tear gas toward them, and "hurled racial epithets at them, while punching and kicking them the entire time."
The police response to the events that unfolded in the Saint Louis suburb drew sharp criticism from the protesters themselves, from the media (see: As Ferguson Burns, Heavy-Handed Police Tactics Are Only Escalating The Situation - Inquisitr), and from the Obama Administration, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who said:
"At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message."
As of this post, a grand jury in Saint Louis is hearing evidence in the case, and the Justice Department has also opened an investigation.

Do you believe that these individuals who filed suit against the Missouri police have a legitimate case? Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Image courtesy of: VOA News