Ferguson Police Sued for $41.5 Million Over Civil Rights Abuses

Police advance during a protest in Ferguson on Aug. 18. Police advance during a protest in Ferguson on Aug. 18. Charlie Riedel/AP

Six plaintiffs are suing the Ferguson and St. Louis County police forces, alleging that the officers' arrests and use of tear gas and rubber bullets violated their civil rights.

During protests following the August 9 shooting of unarmed Missouri teen Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, hundreds of people were arrested by officers, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up crowds. The plaintiffs are seeking $41.5 million from the two police forces, both of their police chiefs and a series of unnamed Officer John Does, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri by Black Lawyers for Justice, a group based in Washington D.C. The claims against the officers range from unlawful arrests and use of militaristic force between August 10 and 13, according to the suit. One plaintiff, Tracey White, said she and her son were arrested in a McDonald's after attending a peaceful protest. According to the suit, White said police officers told her to leave the restaurant, and when she tried to tell the officers that her son was in the restroom, they arrested her for not shutting up:

Another plaintiff, Dewayne A. Matthews, said he was visiting his mother, who lives near where the protests take place. Matthews claims he was surrounded by eight officers while trying get around a road block and shot with rubber bullets. 

Other plaintiffs claimed that officers kicked them and "hurled racial epithets" while arresting them.

On August 14, the day after the events in the suit occurred, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixonordered 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 who killed Brown. 

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