I was wondering when this would happen. New York Magazine is reporting that six people detained by police during the protests are suing the Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments for $41.5 million, accusing officers of using excessive force, making false arrests and other civil rights violations. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, says law enforcement met the tense public outrage over the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown with “militaristic displays of force and weaponry,” (and) engaged U.S. citizens “as if they were war combatants.”
The federal lawsuit was filed by Black Lawyers for Justice of Washington, D.C. on Thursday and named defendants as the city of Ferguson, St. Louis County, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Delmar, Ferguson police officer Justin Cosmo, and other unnamed police officers from Ferguson and St. Louis County.
“The police were completely out of control,” said attorney Malik Shabazz of Black Lawyers for Justice. “In those initial days, it was virtually a police riot.” Journalists were hit with tear gas and rubber bullets as they simply tried to do their jobs. Residents were brutally assaulted for simply trying to make it home.
“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,” said attorney Reginald Greene who brought the case.
The extensive lawsuit contains chilling tales of police brutality:
On August 13, Tracey White and her son bought food at McDonald’s after attending a Peace and Love rally hosted by her church. When her 17-year-old son went to the bathroom she returned to the counter to order a sundae, and suddenly two officers in riot gear burst in and ordered her to “get out.” According to the suit, she tried to tell officers her son was in the bathroom and they were waiting for her husband to pick them up. Then she “continued to express her concerns” when the boy emerged from the bathroom and was accosted by officers. She was thrown to the ground and handcuffed, and the officer said she was being arrested because she wouldn’t “shut up.” When she tried to give her son the iPad she was holding, he was arrested too.
Dewayne Matthews Jr. says he was assaulted and arrested while trying to check on his mother, who lives near West Florissant Avenue. The bus let people off early owing to the protests, and as he was walking toward his mother’s house he was confronted by about eight officers with their weapons drawn. He says he immediately put his hands up, and was shot with rubber bullets.
The suit says Matthews “fell into a creek or sewer,” and an officer pounced on him, “slammed his face into the concrete, and pushed his head underwater to the point that he felt he was going to be drowned.” He was then hit with pepper spray and arrested, and spent the night in the hospital being treated for his injuries. At a press conference, Matthews, who has dreadlocks, said the officers also used racial slurs, calling him “coon” and “mop head.”
It’s being reported that on August 14, the day after the events in the suit occurred, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the Missouri State Highway Patrol to take over control of the Ferguson protests. Meanwhile St. Louis County and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating Michael Brown’s shooting, and a Grand Jury is considering whether to bring charges against the officer Darren Wilson, Brown’s shooter.
Check Out This Gallery Of Mike Brown Supporters:
1. A Call To Action
The fatal shooting of yet another unarmed teen, Michael Brown has caused outrage that's gone way beyond Ferguson, Missouri where the shooting happened. Protestors from all over are gathering, raising two hands in the air--the classic gesture of surrender--and turning the passive move into defiance for the sake of protesting Brown's death. Hands Up, Don't Shoot has become the definition of Ferguson protests.
6. Young Black Men Support
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
7. No Justice, No Peace!
A demonstrator raises his hands and holds up a sign during a rally to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
8. Hands Up
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
9. Don't Shoot
A demonstrator in a business suit raises his hands during a rally to protest.
10. Beyond Color
Why is the officer looking at this White woman, who is supporting Mike Brown, in this way?
11. Youth Movement
A young man raising his hands in support of Mike Brown.
12. Don't Shoot
A White woman with her hands raised in submission with the message on her palms.
13. Generational Support
An older woman raises her hands in support of Mike Brown and the Hands Up, Don't Shoot movement.
14. Activists Of Our Generation
Protest over the killing of unarmed teen, Mike Brown in Ferguson.
15. Gathering Crowds
A capacity crowd gathers at Greater St. Marks Family Church along with the family of Michael Brown and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the killing of brown and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
16. Mike Brown's Mother
Lesley McSpadden (L), the mother of slain teenager Michael Brown joins a capacity crowd of guests at Greater St. Marks Family Church to discuss the killing of her son and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
17. The Revolution Will Be Socially Shared
Demonstrators raise their hands and chant "hands up, don't shoot" during a protest over the killing of Michael Brown.
Demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks, raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
19. T-Shirt With A Message
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown.
20. RIP Mike
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest Mike Brown's death.
21. Hands Up
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
22. We Are One Race
A demonstrator holds banner during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen, Mike Brown.
23. Do I Fit The Description?
Mohamed Bangoura, 21, holds a sign after speaking about a recent incident when he was pulled aside by the Boston Police while walking home one day because he was told, "he fit the description."
24. Am I Next?
Demetrus Washington joins other demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
25. A Happy Protestor
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
26. We Are Praying With My Feet
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
27. Masked Supporter
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
28. Just A Young Black Man, Walking
Mothers need to have conversations with their sons regarding their lives and how to stay safe with police.
29. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae grabbed her Wondaland camp to offer support to Mike Brown.
30. A Stand Off
Ferguson police face protestors who refuse to give up.
31. Even Kids Are Involved
Wow, the impact this movement will have on children is incredible! They know activism at such young age!
32. The Power Of Banning Together
Demonstrators protest the shooting of Mike Brown.
33. We Want Answers
Ferguson residents challenge police with their hands up.
34. Mommy/Daughter Team
How amazing is it that mothers are teaching their kids the importance of being down for the cause.
35. Brave Supporters
Protestors rally around Mike Brown's death
36. We Need Justice
It's a beautiful thing to see our young Black men commit to change!
37. Black Teens Support
As the tear gas fills the air, Black teens stay focused on the cause.
38. Hands Up
Protestors support Mike Brown's family.
39. Don't Shoot!
One brave soul spray paints his chest with the message.
40. Passive Aggressive
Sure, the hands up move may seem passive, but this protest turns it into an aggressive response to police brutality.
41. The People Flee
People flee as police advance on protestors firing tear gas and rubber bullets to force them from the business district into nearby neighborhoods.
42. Let There Be Peace
Supporters go down to their knees with hands up for Hands Up, Don't Shoot.
43. Howard University Students
HBCU, Howard University's students ban together to offer their support.
44. Reverend Al Sharpton
Reverend Al Sharpton is often one of the first responders of racial wrongdoing. He's been very supportive of the Brown family.
45. Hell No, We Won't Go!
Residents and their supporters were protesting the shooting.
What a beautiful sight to see! People banning together to fight for our rights!
47. Assume The Position
A man is approached by the police while his hands are up.
48. A Sniper, Really?
You can see one person's hands up in reaction to the sniper.
49. Never Give Up
On the 4th day of violent protests, brave souls don't give up.
50. Is It A Race Thing?
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
51. A Powerful Image
Police approach a man on his knees who's hands are up and his back is turned.