[JURIST] Five people brought a lawsuit on Thursday against the city of Ferguson [official website], Missouri and several officials for the use of unnecessary and unwarranted force [complaint, PDF] by St. Louis County Police [official website] and Ferguson Police against demonstrators protesting the shooting death of Michael Brown [JURIST news archive]. The complaint describes the experiences of five protesters who were arrested during or immediately following demonstrations, some of whom suffered extensive injuries as a result of the use of excessive force by their arresting officers. Specific charges in the complaint include false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision, assault and battery, deprivation of civil rights, and failure to train, supervise, and discipline. The plaintiffs have asked for $40 million in actual damages, with punitive damages as determined to be appropriate by a jury.
Michael Brown was an African-American teenager who was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer [USA Today report] earlier this month. Many Ferguson residents believe the killing was racially motivated, akin to the 2012 shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin [JURIST news archive] in Florida, and have demonstrated in protest. Last week Missouri Governor Jay Nixon issued an executive order authorizing the Missouri National Guard to provide assistance in the city of Ferguson following a period of civil unrest that prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency [JURIST reports] the Saturday before. Also in August, the parents of Trayvon Martin and a similar victim addressed racial discrimination [ACLU report] in the US before the UN. The US Attorney General has released a statement [press release] declaring the investigation of the Brown shooting will receive a “fulsome review.” Also last week Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International [advocacy websites] issued reports [JURIST report] alleging the use of police force and intimidation tactics to dispel largely nonviolent protesters following the shooting threatens constitutional freedoms.