Hammond city officials respond to lawsuit over alleged use of excessive force by police
HAMMOND, La. (WVUE) - Officials in Hammond have responded to a lawsuit filed against the city and six police officers for the alleged use of excessive force.
The lawsuit was filed by Timothy Watkins, 45, of Amite, on Saturday in the Eastern District federal court in New Orleans. It alleges that Watkins, an African-American man, was unjustly handcuffed by police through the use of force after he called 9-1-1 himself to mediate a dispute over a broken windshield.
“The city takes these allegations seriously,” said Andre Coudrain, attorney for the City of Hammond. “I first became aware of the lawsuit and the incident on Monday and obtained a copy of the lawsuit yesterday.”
Coudrain said that he is reviewing the suit and will review the relevant information available and evidence of the claim and compare it to the allegations. From there, the city will make a determination on the defense of the claim, he said.
The lawsuit says that the alleged incident took place on April 30, 2020, and that instead of assisting Watkins, the police arrested him on an unrelated shoplifting charge, handcuffed him, and severely injured him in the process. Watkins claims to suffer from chronic sciatica and that the incident has left him with persistent debilitating pain, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit names Officer Anthony Fox as the aggressor and claims he violated Watkins’ civil rights by unlawfully handcuffing him. Five other officers, who are simply listed as “John Doe” are accused of not holding Fox accountable. Lawyers for Watkins, cited the George Floyd case in the suit and said that Watkins is fortunate to have survived.
Court documents list Stephanie Willis and Nora Ahmed of the ACLU and Priyanka Timblo of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP in New York City as Watkins’ legal representation.
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