Police settle Louisiana suit over 2020 beating of Black man

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) – A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by a black man who said police officers in a Louisiana town had thrown him to the ground, slammed his face on the sidewalk and locked him in a psychiatric ward in retaliation for criticism of the Police.

The terms of the settlement between Brandon Kennedy and Shreveport Police Department officers were not released.

Kennedy’s case was brought under the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana’s Justice Lab program, which enlists the help of private attorneys to sue for police abuse.

“Our client, Brandon Kennedy, has endured a horrific and dehumanizing ordeal, and we are glad he is receiving financial compensation,” said Nora Ahmed, the ACLU’s Louisiana legal director, in a press release.

“We hope this settlement sends a message that we will hold them accountable when local law enforcement violates the rights of the people they have sworn to serve,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed noted in an email that defense motions that the lawsuit pointed to police department records of the use of force and statistics about inequalities in the treatment of black and white suspects were denied.

“I think given what’s happening with Nichols, this is very significant because, literally, that’s how policing is done in this country,” she said, referring to Tire Nichols, whose death three days after being arrested by police officers was beaten in Memphis, resulting in five officers being fired and charged with second-degree murder.

The Shreveport Police Department did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Kennedy’s lawsuit was filed in December 2021. It said he was at a supermarket checkout in December 2020 when he picked up a conversation with another customer. According to the lawsuit, an officer was overheard expressing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and “his own negative experiences” with the Shreveport Police Department.

According to the lawsuit, the officer ordered Kennedy to go outside. Once outside, the lawsuit said, Kennedy was obeying an order to leave when the officer threw him to the ground, repeatedly banged his head on the sidewalk, and placed his knee on Kennedy’s back. Other officers who arrived did nothing to stop the violence, instead handcuffing Kennedy.

The suit said officers searched Kennedy and, having found nothing incriminating, took him to a hospital psychiatric ward, where he was being held. The next morning a psychiatrist said there was no basis for detaining him and he was released.

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