A lawsuit was filed Thursday against a former Kansas City police officer who flung a man face-first into the ground during a 2013 incident.
The suit alleging the use of excessive force was filed in federal court on behalf of Joshua Bills and names the former officer, Jordan M. Nelson, as the only defendant.
Video of the incident shows Bills standing with both hands out at an angle before an officer identified in the lawsuit as Nelson grabs him and kicks his legs out from under him.
The video shows Bills’ face impacting the ground without him being able to break his fall.
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The incident occurred on December 6, 2013, in the 2100 block of East 34th Street.
Police had been called to the area to investigate a “suspicious person,” according to the suit. Bills matched the description of the person as a tall black male in black clothing.
Five officers arrived and video from one of the police cars shows Bills standing, holding his hands out to the side at about a 45-degree angle.
Officers approach him from several different directions.
“Other than slowly turning his body, Mr. Bills did not change his physical position in any way and remained calm as the officers approached him on foot,” the suit states.
“After just seconds,” Nelson said, ‘all right dude,’” and took Bills to the ground.
All five officers then restrained Bills, one officer kneeling on his back, and he was handcuffed.
“At no time did Mr. Bills resist arrest or act aggressively toward the officers during the incident,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Bills’ behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages for Bills’ physical injuries and the alleged violation of his constitutional rights.
Nelson referred a request for comment to an attorney with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. That office did not make a statement Thursday.
Police Department spokesman Capt. Lionel Colón said in a written statement that, while the department is not named as a defendant, it will be involved in the litigation.
“It is within the courtroom walls where examination of all the facts and circumstance will take place,” Colón said. “As a result, the KCPD will respect the legal process without interference of discussing details outside of those proceedings.”