Two ex-police officers in East Point, Georgia are facing multiple charges, including murder, for the death of 24-year-old African-American Gregory Towns, Jr.
While they were still police officers in April 2014, Marcus Eberhart and Howard Weems blasted Towns, who was handcuffed, 14 times with a stun gun. This was despite the fact that the East Point police department does not allow police officers to use stun guns in the way the officers used them, according to the Washington Post.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Gregory Towns, Jr.’s family, that led the city to settle for $1 million, outlined how the officers disobeyed the department’s own rules, as quoted in the Independent.
“Weems and Eberhart violated the department’s stun gun policy, which says stun guns should not be used on someone who’s handcuffed, should not be used to escort or prod someone and should not be used on someone who’s offering only passive resistance.”
The Washington Post says that the ex-cops are charged with felony murder charges, aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter and violation of oath by a public officer. Weems was fired by the police department and Ebehart resigned for their actions.
The autopsy on Gregory Towns, Jr. states that his death was a homicide, as reported by Al Jazeera America. More specifically, he died of “hypertensive cardiovascular disease exacerbated by physical exertion and conducted electrical stimulation.”
Chris Stewart, lawyer for the family of Gregory Towns, Jr., made a statement about the incident.
“He was handcuffed behind his back when this happened, he didn’t have a weapon, he wasn’t the fighting the officers. He was tasered because he was tired and not getting up fast enough. It’s not just against the law, it’s inhumane. You don’t use a Taser like a cattle prod.”
The ordeal began when police officers gave chase to the 281-pound Towns after they were called to a domestic dispute call. According to RT, when the cops confronted him, he took off into the nearby woods. Eventually, Towns tripped and fell. The officers were able to handcuff him. They then proceeded to use a stun gun to get the out-of-breath man to his feet and moving towards the waiting police car. He fell unconscious and eventually died.
AP reports that Chris Stewart had previously stated that this crime wasn’t about race, as the two ex-cops were African-American as well. This was a matter of abuse of power and inappropriate use of force. The incident came months before the Michael Brown case that pushed the issue of police brutality into the national spotlight, particularly when it comes to white police officers targeting African-Americans.
The Guardian reports that attempts to contact the two ex-cops have been unsuccessful. Although there are no lawyers listed in the current court file, calls to their previous lawyers have not been returned.
[Photo by Graeme Robertson/Getty Images]