A pair of filmmakers from Kansas City who say they were arrested filming a protest in St. Louis have filed a lawsuit claiming they were unlawfully detained.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Drew and Jennifer Burbridge, a married couple from Kansas City, filed a civil rights suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis seeking actual and punitive damages against the city and three police officers.
The Burbridges allege police assaulted and arrested them because they were journalists. The couple was taken into custody Sept. 17 during a mass arrest in downtown St. Louis, the paper reported.
They allege unnamed officers violated their First Amendment rights, retaliated against them for engaging in constitutionally protected activity, interfered with their right to record police officers in public places and used excessive force to arrest them.
The pair said in the lawsuit they were not participants in the protest but “neutral third party observers and journalists.”
According to the report, two officers threw Drew Burbridge to the ground face-first, twisted his arms behind his back and repeatedly kicked him in the back while restraining his arms with zip ties.
Three officers allegedly struck Drew Burbridge with batons after he was restrained. He reportedly lost consciousness from the beating, but came to when an officer lifted his head by the hair and sprayed him in the face with a chemical.
The Burbridges also allege police violated due-process rights by using a crowd-control tactic known as kettling, the Post-Dispatch reported. The technique is used to corral a group of people by surrounding them.
Protestors have demonstrated in St. Louis the last two weeks after a judge acquitted a white police officer of first-degree murder in the death of a black drug suspect.
On Thursday, the city’s mayor and interim police chief called for a third-party investigation into the police department’s handling of the protests.
The ACLU also filed suit against the city for police actions during the protests.