Man Accused of Stealing Tomatoes Sues Off-Duty Cop Over Unlawful Arrest, Brutality
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A man from Atlanta, Georgia is suing an off-duty police officer over an incident that left him with broken bones and a severed artery.
The October 2014 incident, which was caught on camera, shows the off-duty cop beating Tyrone Carnegay. The officer was working as a security guard for Walmart at the time. According to the lawsuit, Carnegay was accused of stealing a tomato by the store’s manager, which prompted the officer’s aggressive reaction. After the encounter, Carnegay was rushed to the hospital with a broken leg and severed artery where he was handcuffed to the bed. After receiving treatment, the victim was sent to jail, where he stayed for three days. Charges were eventually dropped and no evidence of theft was found.
Due to his injuries, Carnegay now walks with a limp because of the titanium rod in his leg.
In an interview to WSB-TV, Carnegay claimed that the officer gave him a command to “get on the ground” while beating him with his baton. According to the footage of the incident, the officer hit Carnegay’s leg at least seven times. The officer reportedly never asked him for a receipt before the attack, but once Carnegay was subdued and placed in handcuffs, the officer allegedly reached into his pockets where he found a receipt showing Carnegay had paid for the tomato.
According to Craig Jones, the victim’s attorney, this incident could have been avoided if the officer had asked Carnegay a simple question. Instead of asking the customer for a receipt, “the officer went into Robocop mode and beat the crap out of him,” Jones told news organizations.
The lawsuit names the store’s manager, the officer, and Walmart, but the Atlanta Police has not been involved.
This is not the only wrongful arrest story to have hit the news recently.
According to the Baltimore Sun, six men who were arrested during last year’s Baltimore protests against police brutality have recently filed a lawsuit against the Baltimore Police Department. The suit alleges the six men were wrongfully arrested in what the plaintiffs claim to be an unconstitutional violation of their protected speech rights.
While the circumstances under which these men were arrested are different from Carnegay’s, both cases showcase an issue prompted by the country’s ongoing overcriminalization efforts.
As the nation struggles to abandon its addiction to passing too many laws, law enforcement agents are trained to act as if civilians are the enemies in an undeclared war against the individual.
Unless we address this issue by helping others understand the importance of limiting government bodies, not individual liberties, the issue of police brutality will never be fully tackled.
In a column for Bloomberg, Yale Law School Professor Stephen Carter wrote that, on “the opening day of law school,” he always counsels his “first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce.”
Are they listening?