Following the encounter, Mr Smith went to hospital, was fitted with a sling and told he'd have to seek physical therapy to recover from his injury. The City of Valdosta is fully committed to transparency. Smith is seeking $700,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. After the third time asking Mr Smith to do so, the officer body slams Mr Smith face-first into the ground. A 46-year-old black man in Georgia who claims police officers used excessive force while wrongfully arresting him has sued the Valdosta Police Department. The Valdosta Police Department in Georgia has been sued for excessive force in a February incident that left a Black resident injured. As Mr Smith reacts, the officer puts him in a bear hug. The officers eventually help Mr Smith with his injuries. The officer asks for identification and Mr Smith hands over his ID. In the incident, Antonio Arnelo Smith was injured while briefly detained following a 911 call to a Valdosta business on February 8, 2020. Copyright 2020 WALB. This police band communication between the first officer and dispatch was overheard by other officers arriving at the location,” VPD said on its Facebook page. Once the police realise Mr Smith has been injured - he cries from pain in the video - the officers take the handcuffs off. On February 8, 46-year-old Antonio Arnelo Smith was mistaken as the suspect in a panhandling investigation and the lawsuit states his arm was … The VPD had received a report of “a male outside the business harassing customers, screaming loudly, and asking customers for money. They found the man had an outstanding warrant and arrested him. Smith is represented by attorney Nathaniel Haugabrook of Copeland, Haugabrook and Walker, who is saying the incident constitutes a civil rights violation. At that point, the officer who first confronted Smith clarifies that the suspect with the warrant is on the other side of the building. "Based on what I observed and believing this person to have a warrant for his arrest, I grasped his right wrist. The officer wanted to find the man to see if the pharmacy wanted to bring trespassing charges against him. Around the same time, the other officer, who was on the other side of the store, found a man walking away from Walgreens. As Valdosta police approached Antonio Smith, he was terrified and thought he was going to "get pinned for something I didn't do," he told CNN. Antonio Arnelo Smith, a 46-year-old Black man, says Valdosta, Georgia police used excessive force and violated his civil rights as he was slammed … The city of Valdosta issued a statement regarding the matter on Monday. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium. In response, the Valdosta Police Department released a statement and bodycam footage of Smith’s violent arrest, which shows him being body-slammed to the ground by four officers while he pleads for help. It indicates that Smith “began to resist by pulling his arms forward and tensing his body.” The responding officer used “a physical control technique” to bring Smith to the ground and place handcuffs on him. A Gray Media Group, Inc. Station - © 2002-2020 Gray Television, Inc. VPD, Valdosta named in excessive force lawsuit. Thomas County Central and Westover will be meeting for the first time since 2015. The Valdosta Police Department in Georgia has been sued for excessive force in a February 8 incident. “From the moment Mr. Smith was slammed to the ground until he walked away, he cried and screamed in agonizing pain,” the lawsuit states. On the video, an officer approaches Mr Smith claiming he was investigating "suspicious activity" related to the pharmacy. The man was wearing a brown hoodie and blue pants. According to the statement given by the responding officers, Mr Smith was "standing with a 'bladed' stance" while "arguing or debating with" them. Please continue to respect all commenters and create constructive debates. Mr Smith insists that he is innocent, that the staff at the pharmacy know who he is and that nearby security cameras would prove he hadn't done anything illegal. The officer told the man he was investigating a suspicious person. ", The lawsuit claims there was no reason for police to believe Mr Smith had committed a crime or that he had any intention of committing a crime, and that the sergeant's use of a bear hug was "unnecessary and illegal" and indicative of "malice and reckless indifference.". VPD also wrote how the brief detainment happened. The existing Open Comments threads will continue to exist for those who do not subscribe to Independent Premium. On Friday, June 19, 2020, The City of Valdosta was notified by the Valdosta Daily Times (“VDT”) about a lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department (“VPD”) and the City regarding an incident that occurred in February, 2020. The sergeant wrote in his report that Mr Smith didn't comply with his orders to put his arms behind his back, so the officer pulled him "off-balance and rolled him to the ground to gain control of him in anticipation of a warrant arrest. At this point, the statement outlines that another officer arrived on the scene “after hearing information over the police band… The responding officer believed this individual was the subject of the 911 call and was the individual with felony warrants based on his observations of the subject’s interaction with the second officer.”. At the same time, the other officer on the scene, on the other side of the pharmacy, found Smith walking away from the store wearing a brown hoodie and blue pants, the police statement indicates. Black Georgia man Antonio Arnelo Smith, 46, has filed a lawsuit against the Valdosta Police Department after officers broke his arm during an arrest, mistaking him for a panhandling suspect. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. At that point, a police sergeant arrives and walks up to Smith. Once the injury was noticed, the man was removed from the handcuffs. At that time, I wrapped my arms around Smith in a 'bear hug'," the sergeant who slammed Mr Smith wrote in his report. I felt Smith tense up and begin to pull away from me. Matheson stated on this, “We hold our police department to the highest standards.” After sharing statistics to back this statement, the Council proceeds to apologize for any injury resulting from an encounter with a Valdosta employee, and call for all members of Valdosta to do their part to come together and progress as a community. In the incident, Antonio Arnelo Smith was injured while briefly detained following a 911 call to a Valdosta business on February 8, 2020. The lawsuit claims VPD officers used excessive force in the incident. It continues, saying the officer explained to Smith that they were investigating a suspicious person at Walgreens. The lawsuit adds that Smith suffered distal radial and ulnar fractures and was discharged from the hospital after being fitted for a sling. Police learned the man was the one in the 911 call and not the one with felony warrants. Police were dispatched to the 2800 block of North Ashley Street on a 911 call. Officers were responding to a report of panhandling outside a pharmacy. You can also choose to be emailed when someone replies to your comment. According to the VDT, the plaintiff’s attorney delivered the lawsuit along with video shortly after filing it on…2020-06-22T13:50:03Z. Smith’s attorney argues that the officer “falsified his report to reflect Smith was told to put his hands behind his back before the sergeant touched him.”. The man was wearing a brown hoodie and blue pants, according to police. READ NEXT: WATCH: Man Arrested After Wearing Blackface at Anti-Racism Protest, WATCH: Bodycam Video Released in Valdosta PD Excessive Force Lawsuit, Copyright © 2020 Heavy, Inc. All rights reserved. To achieve that goal, the VPD has released the full body camera footage of the responding officer which can be viewed on the city’s website. P.O. As the exchange is taking place, another officer approaches Mr Smith from behind and grabs his arm. All rights reserved. “The responding officer approached the subject and advised him to place his hands behind his back,” the police department said. June 22, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT - Updated June 24 at 11:13 AM. Antonio Arnelo Smith is suing the department for $700,000 after a city police officer grappled him from behind and slammed him to the ground. Powered by. Officers said they were "investigating suspicious activity" and mistook Mr Smith as a suspect. According to the Valdosta Daily Times, the lawsuit names Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, members of the city council, the city's Police Chief Leslie Manahan and three officers involved in the arrest as defendants. Once that man was in custody, the officer told a colleague - who had just arrived - to search near the pharmacy for another man who had allegedly been asking customers for money.