Police lights

Have a broken taillight?

In Shreveport, Louisiana, you can get “slammed to the ground face-first and pummeled by police officers” for that.

In fact, a federal lawsuit alleges, you can end up being “beaten and punched in the face and body more than 20 times, then arrested and hospitalized for severe injuries to [your] face and arm.”

That would be because you “resisted arrest” by driving  half a mile to a safe, well-lit area to stop for officers.

The incident was described by the Rutherford Institute, which represents Gregory Tucker, a young African-American who reportedly was driving a car in violation of the taillight requirement.

The city has asked that his federal Fourth Amendment lawsuit be dismissed, and Rutherford has asked the court to let the case continue.

“This case is a chilling reminder that in the American police state, ‘we the people’ are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to ‘serve and protect,'” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, the president of the institute.

“What this case makes painfully clear is how easy it is for Americans to be charged with any of the growing number of contempt of cop charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen exhibits anything short of total compliance to the police state.”

It was early on Dec. 1, 2016, when a city officer observed one of the taillights on Tucker’s vehicle was out.

He signaled for Tucker to pull over.

“Because he did not feel safe stopping immediately, Tucker drove calmly and slowly for a couple minutes more to a safe, well-lit area in front of his cousin’s house where he parked his car. The police officer then ordered Tucker out of his vehicle, and after stepping out, immediately placed Tucker under arrest for ‘resisting’ and searched his person and his vehicle. Tucker was then ordered to move to the front of the police vehicle and to place his hands on its hood. During this time, Tucker expressed his frustration to the officer over his treatment,” the institute said.

Then two other officers arrived, came up behind him, “grabbed his arms to restrain him and began placing handcuffs on Tucker. A third police officer also arrived on the scene. According to police dash cam footage, Tucker was then thrown to the ground and punched numerous times in the head and body. The police also yelled repeatedly at Tucker to ‘quit resisting.’ Tucker, bleeding with injuries to his face, head and arm, was then placed into the back of a police vehicle. EMTs were called to treat Tucker, and he was eventually taken to the hospital,” the organization said.

The lawsuit alleging excessive force followed shortly.

The complaint states: “The defendants’ motion for summary judgment must be denied. The facts of record in this case demonstrate the defendant officers wantonly brutalized Tucker when Tucker was stopped for the minor, non-violent traffic offense of a broken brake/license plate light. The defendant officers utilized excessive and unreasonable force when arresting Tucker in violation of clearly established law.

“Tucker complied with the arresting officer’s verbal commands, was non suspected of any violent crime, posed no immediate threat to the three arresting officers on the scene, and did not resist arrest.

“Contrary to the defendants’ claim, the fast they assert as justifying the assault on Tucker are disputed, and some of those asserted ‘facts’ are opinion or legal conclusions.”

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