A federal lawsuit filed Thursday says police in Ferguson and St. Louis County used excessive force and falsely arrested innocent bystanders amid attempts to quell widespread unrest after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The five plaintiffs in the suit in St. Louis include a clinical social worker who said she and her 17-year-old son were roughed up and arrested after not evacuating a McDonald’s quickly enough. They also include a 23-year-old man who said he was shot multiple times with rubber bullets and called racial slurs by police while walking through the protest zone to his mother’s home, and a man who said he was arrested for filming the disturbances.
The lawsuit seeks $40 million in damages and names Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson officer Justin Cosma, several unnamed officers identified collectively as John Doe, and the city and county governments.
A St. Louis County police spokesman referred inquiries to County Counselor Patricia Redington, who said she had not seen the suit and declined comment. A public relations consultant working for the city of Ferguson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Meanwhile, St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez told The Associated Press that Lt. Ray Albers resigned Thursday. Albers was the police officer shown on cellphone video pointing his rifle at demonstrators on Aug. 19 in Ferguson and threatening them.
On the video, a man is heard saying, “Oh my God! Gun raised!” as the officer approaches. The officer walks near the man, gun pointed, and appears to threaten to kill him. A St. Louis County police sergeant forced the officer to lower the weapon and escorted him away.
A message left on Albers’ home phone Thursday was not returned.
In other developments, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the state is committing $1 million in support to businesses affected by the suburb’s racial unrest.