Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bruce Franks Jr. Sues Alleging Officers Used Excessive Force in Berkeley Arrest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bruce Franks Jr. Sues Alleging Officers Used Excessive Force in Berkeley Arrest

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS COUNTY * Missouri Rep.-elect Bruce Franks Jr. filed a federal lawsuit Thursday alleging four police officers used excessive force in arresting him two years ago at a protest on charges that were later dropped.

The lawsuit claims two St. Louis County police officers and two Berkeley police officers seriously injured Franks during the arrest Dec. 23, 2014, at a gas station in Berkeley. The gas station was the site of a protest that followed the fatal police shooting of a man who pointed a gun at officers earlier the same day. The protest turned violent as small explosive devices and rocks were thrown at officers.

The suit says that despite being calm and compliant, Franks was beaten and pepper-sprayed by four officers as he lay facedown with his hands cuffed behind him.

Franks suffered physical and psychological injuries in the incident, the suit says. The suit alleges officers made false statements to shift the blame to Franks and lied to cover up the attack.

The suit names St. Louis County police Officer David Steinmeyer, Berkeley police Officer Evelio Valdespino, and an unidentified Berkeley officer and an unidentified St. Louis County officer as defendants.

St. Louis County police referred comment to the St. Louis County Counselor's Office, which did not answer a phone call after business hours Thursday.

According to the lawsuit:

Franks was at the protest as a member of the Peacekeepers, a group of four local volunteers "trained in techniques to de- escalate and defuse volatile situations between police and protesters." The group consisted of Franks and three men identified as Paul Muhammed, Calvin Kennedy and Carlos Ball.

Franks arrived around midnight wearing his Peacekeeper uniform a black hooded sweatshirt and hat that each had "PEACEKEEPER" emblazoned across the front with in large white lettering and plain black pants.

Franks and the group positioned themselves to create a buffer between police and protesters. …

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