- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday says Atlanta police officers violated the rights of a man who was grabbed and thrown to the ground when he was arrested during a protest.

Lawyer Mawuli Davis said he filed the lawsuit on behalf of Corey Toole, who was arrested Nov. 25, 2014 as he participated in a protest in response to the decision by a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict a police officer in the shooting of Michael Brown.

The officers treated him violently after targeting him because he was filming the protest, the lawsuit says. The city has failed to properly train officers and to update its policies, despite previous court orders to do so, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit names the city, two deputy police chiefs and several officers.

City spokeswoman Anne Torres said the city had not yet been served with the suit Wednesday afternoon and therefore could not comment.

Toole was using his cellphone to record the protest in downtown Atlanta around 9:30 p.m. when an officer started yelling at him to get back on the sidewalk, the lawsuit says. When Toole got into an argument with the officer because he was already on the sidewalk, several officers grabbed him, pulled him through the crowd and threw him on the ground, the lawsuit says.

Toole received a deep gash on his forehead and another cut on his lower lip and one of his front teeth was chipped when officers threw him on the ground with his arms behind his back and held him there, the lawsuit says. That has left him with lasting scars, back soreness and migraines, the lawsuit says.

The officers then brought Toole to a prisoner transport van where he waited for several hours with other arrested protesters before they were taken to a police station. While they were waiting, Toole and a number of other protesters were not told what charges they faced, the lawsuit says.

Toole was charged with disorderly conduct and released early the morning after his arrest.

The officers’ behavior violated Toole’s constitutional rights and also violated state and federal law, the lawsuit says.

The city’s repeated failure to adopt policies and training required by court orders led directly to the violations of rights suffered by Toole and has “created a de facto custom of APD officers repeatedly interfering with - and often arresting - citizens who are legally photographing or filming police activity,” the lawsuit says.

“This suit is a reminder that the voices of people who are crying out for change cannot be silenced by false arrests or police brutality,” Davis said in an email.

The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.


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