The Rutherford Institute is representing an African-American man who allegedly complied fully with police orders during an arrest yet was subjected to excessive force and brutality that included throwing him to the ground, tasering him, placing him in a chokehold and rendering him unconscious so that he had to be hospitalized for three days
The allegations are in a Fourth Amendment lawsuit filed by the non-profit legal group on behalf of Jeriel Edwards against Muskogee, Oklahoma, and several police officers.
At least eight officers were part of the arrest at one point, Rutherford asserts.
The case claims the use of excessive force and deprivation of constitutional rights.
The city did not respond to a WND request for comment.
“If you ask police what Americans should do to stay alive during encounters with law enforcement, they will tell you to comply, cooperate, obey, not resist, not argue, not make threatening gestures or statements, avoid sudden movements, and submit to a search of their person and belongings,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.
“The problem is what to do when compliance is not enough. How can you maintain the illusion of freedom when daily, Americans are being shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, challenge an order or merely exist?”
The arrest took place two years ago when Edwards was sitting in his car in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant.
The complaint doesn’t explain why officers contacted him.
It states he was approached by an officer who ordered him to put the car in park and provide his identification. A body camera recording of the encounter shows that the officer made the request even though he already knew Edwards’ identity.
“Edwards complied with the order,” Rutherford said. ‘The officer then ordered Edwards to get out of the vehicle and remove his hands from his pockets. Again, Edwards complied. The officer instructed Edwards to put his wallet on the center console and unlatch his seat belt. At this time, a second Muskogee police officer arrived at the scene. As Edwards was exiting the vehicle, he was ordered to face the vehicle and place his hands behind his back.”
The complaint alleges that at this point one of the officers grabbed Edwards’ right arm while the other officer shoved him into the corner of the car door, “followed by the officers aggressively grabbing Edwards’ upper body and pushing his head into the corner of the car door as they attempted to place his hands behind his back.”
“One officer then told Edwards to get to the ground, but before he could do so, the officers slammed him to the pavement,” Rutherford says.
“As the officers pushed Edwards’ head and neck to the ground, they also placed a knee on his body to pin him to the ground. Edwards repeatedly asked why the officers were abusing him, but got no answer. Instead, the first officer fired a taser at Edwards as he lay on the ground. A third officer arrived on the scene and made two striking motions at Edwards, the impact of which can be heard on the body camera video. A fourth officer arrived at the scene and put Edwards in a chokehold.
“As the four officers dragged Edwards to the ground, another joined the fray and held Edwards down by digging his knee into his body. Edwards was transported to the hospital and lost consciousness along the way,” Rutherford said.
The lawsuit asks for financial damages to be determined, attorneys’ fees and other compensation.