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Missouri police sued for millions: Lawsuit filed over alleged police brutality

Missouri police have been hit with a $40 million to $200 million dollar lawsuit, filed on behalf of six plaintiffs, that allege actions taken by Missouri cops attempting to quell week long riots after the August 9 Michael Brown shooting amounted to “egregious acts of police brutality.”

Reuters news service, via MSN, said “a group of people caught up in unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white officer killed a black teenager, sued local officials on Thursday, alleging civil rights violations through arrests and police assaults with rubber bullets and tear gas.”

The suit categorizes the police response to protests and public outcry as “militaristic displays of force and weaponry,” and says cops “engaged U.S. citizens as if they were war combatants.”

Some of the plaintiffs in the suit allege they were not involved in any way with rioters, protesters or looters that hit the streets of Ferguson – smashing store windows, starting fires and walking out with stolen goods by the armful.

Per the Reuters report:

One of the plaintiffs alleges she and her son were in a McDonald's restaurant when several police officers with rifles ordered them out. According to the suit, an officer threw her to the ground and handcuffed her, with she and her son both arrested.

Another plaintiff alleges he was trying to visit his mother in Ferguson when several police officers in military uniforms in her neighborhood shot him with rubber bullets. When he fell over, he was beaten and sprayed with pepper spray, the lawsuit says.

Other plaintiffs cited in the suit said they were protesting – though doing so peacefully – when they were hit with billy clubs or blasted with rubber bullets and stun grenades.

“This is a blatant example of how police handle African-Americans… how it can go terribly, terribly wrong. You have a right to peaceful assembly,” said attorney Reginald Greene who brought the case.

At the height of the protests, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the heavy-handed tactics of police.

“At a time when we must seek to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the local community, I am deeply concerned that the deployment of military equipment and vehicles sends a conflicting message,” Holder said.

CNN had additional details on four of the plaintiffs in the suit. One individual said he was shooting pictures from his car window when police snatched his camera and destroyed his memory card. Another party to the suit said they were peacefully protesting when police fired tear gas in their direction, then “hurled racial epithets at them, while punching and kicking them the entire time.”

The suit was filed by the Black Lawyers for Justice.

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