Antonio Arnelo Smith has filed a $700,000 lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department for excessive force and for violating his civil rights.
On February 8, Antonio was minding his black king business when he was approached by officers who were looking for a panhandler with an outstanding warrant.
Antonio had just left a nearby Walgreens where he was waiting for his sister to send him money via Western Union.
Officers told Antonio they were responding to a call about “suspicious activity” and asked for his I.D.
Antonio complied while informing the officers that he has done nothing wrong and even advised them to call his sister in Florida to confirm she is sending him money.
At that point, a police sergeant arrived on the scene, walked up to Antonio Arnelo Smith, and wrapped him in a bear hug.
While in the bear hug, they instructed Antonio, who is completely panicked to “put his arms behind his back.” He couldn’t because the sergeant had him in a bear hug.
That’s when the sergeant slammed Antonio onto the ground dropping his full weight on top of him and broke Antonio’s arm.
They continued to cuff Antonio who was literally sobbing and crying out for Jesus in pain.
A short while later, another officer informed the arresting officers that they had the wrong guy as they all stood there looking like confused dingbats!
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Friday, names Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, members of the Valdosta City Council, Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan, three Valdosta patrolmen and one police sergeant as defendants.
The suit states: “Defendants’ actions, omissions and deliberate indifference to violations of clearly established constitutional rights caused Mr. Smith to suffer physical, mental and emotional injuries.”
The lawsuit also accuses the Valdosta police of conspiracy to create a false report, excessive force, false detention, false arrest and assault and battery.
The officers allegedly lied in the police report by stating Antonio was told to put his hands behind his back three times before the sergeant touched him.
Attorney Nathaniel Haugabrook of Copeland, Haugabrook and Walker is demanding a jury trial and $700,000 in damages.
Source: Valdosta Daily Times