ST. LOUIS – More than a dozen people arrested in a police “kettle” in 2017 a protest in St. Louis suing the city, police officers and their supervisors, alleging that they were roughed up, pepper sprayed and unlawfully detained.
Federal lawsuits were filed Monday, a year to the day after the Sept. 17, 2017, the centre of protest. It was among several demonstrations that followed the acquittal of white former police officer Jason Stockley in the mysterious death of a black suspect.
The lawsuits were filed by 14 people who are involved in the centre of the protest, and two others who alleged they were pepper sprayed by the police in a separate protest at the municipality. All the lawsuits alleged violation of the Constitutional rights and seeks unspecified damages.
St. Louis City Counselor, Julian Bush on Tuesday refused to comment.
Stockley fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith after a police chase in December 2011. Stockley claimed Smith had a gun and he shot in self-defense; prosecutors said Stockley planted on the weapon.
Then-Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce filed first-degree murder charges in 2016, after Stockley had the department. Stockley opted for a bench trial, and a judge on Sept. 15, 2017, found Stockley not guilty.
The protests began immediately and lasted for weeks. Two nights after the verdict, protesters arrived at the city of St. Louis. Some broke windows and knocked over flower pots.
Around 11 a.m. on Sept. 17, 2017, police used a tactic known as a kettle in which officers lines and surround crowds is deemed unmanageable. The procedure resulted in 123 arrests.
But the practice has drawn severe criticism from some who say that it is entangled not only protesters, but innocent people can not escape. The lawsuits say that some of the plaintiffs were beaten and pepper sprayed.
Among those suing were the centre of the residents who said that they were not part of the resistance, together with journalists, a scientist, and the two officers.
“This region is no stranger to the protests, and yet, it seems that we just can’t learn from our mistakes,” Blake Ran, executive director of ArchCity Defenders, said in a statement. ArchCity Defenders and other civil rights law firm Khazaeli Wyrsch, filed the lawsuits on behalf of the plaintiffs.
The kettling “was a gross violation of the law and abuse of the power of the state, and there are really people who suffered as a result,” Strode said.
A suit filed by a freelance video journalist Demetrius Thomas said a police officer punched him repeatedly in the ribs with a baton, and his camera equipment was confiscated and destroyed, costing him work to the point that he had to go out of his house. He now lives with relatives.
Mark Esophagus of St. Louis, a filmmaker and a freelance journalist, said in his suit he was restrained with zip ties, and pepper sprayed in the face.
A suit filed by Mario Ortega, University of Washington, scientist at the time, he said that he was just watching the protest when he was caught in the kettle. His suit said he was pepper sprayed, punched, kicked, dragged and slammed into a building.