A federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Pennsylvania man who is accusing two Elizabeth Borough police officers of using “excessive and unnecessary force,” KDKA reports.
According to the news station, the incident took place in April 2015, but is now resurfacing because of the lawsuit and the release of surveillance footage that shows the altercation between the officers and the man, identified as 21-year-old Joshua Brooks, who was in custody as a drug suspect.
Brooks was at the Elizabeth Borough Police Station in Elizabeth, Pa., on a charge of possession of suspected heroin, when one officer, identified as Garrett Kimmel, became physically abusive when Brooks refused to sit down, the lawsuit claims.
Brooks had one of his ankles shackled to a bench at the time, and an arm in a cast, when the attack occurred. Kimmel can be seen on surveillance footage choking and punching Brooks, using his forearms, hands and knees. Officer Dan Verno, who apparently heard the scuffle, then enters the room, pulling Brooks from Kimmel before proceeding to use a Taser on the 21-year-old.
Brooks’ lawyer, Todd Hollis, called the video images “repulsive.”
“It represents everything that’s bad in a police officer,” Hollis said. “Using such excessive force when that force is unnecessary is repulsive and it goes against everything that I think most good cops stand for.”
After the incident at the police station, officers filed more than 30 charges against Brooks, including assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. However, all charges, with the exception of Brooks’ drug-possession charge, were subsequently dropped by the commonwealth. Brooks ended up pleading guilty to the possession charge and was sentenced to probation.
“Why is it that they filed these charges against this young man when they knew that he hadn’t committed aggravated assault on them? Was it in hopes that this young man would simply plead to the charges and that would insulate the police from wrongdoing?” Hollis said.
Hollis said his client was upset and afraid of retaliation but decided to go through with the lawsuit.
“We want to bring the truth to light. We want the public to see what happens behind closed doors,” the attorney added.
Read more at KDKA.