ST. LOUIS – A federal jury listened to new testimony in a civil lawsuit filed against several people, including St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar and the city of Ferguson.
The lawsuit was filed by Dwayne A. Matthews Jr. after an incident that occurred in the Ferguson protests on the night of August 10, 2014, the day after Michael Brown was shot to death by a Ferguson police officer.
A jury of seven people heard testimony and watched videos from the incident.
Matthews claims police used excessive force on him. He says he was held under water, pepper sprayed, and beaten by St. Louis County police. Matthews’ lawyer showed a picture of a large cut on Matthews’ head which he said was caused by police.
Judge Henry Autry initially granted judgment to police, St. Louis County and the city of Ferguson, saying that many of the claims were not backed up by video evidence or other testimony.
However, a three-judge panel on the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and wanted a jury to decide.
Police testified Matthews disobeyed several commands to turn back from trying to run through their line that had been had set up after police determined the protesting was no longer peaceful. Several officers had been assaulted with rocks and bottles of urine. They say they shot Matthews with a bean bag to deter him and then he resisted arrest.
The trial is expected to end Friday afternoon. The jury could award as much as $400 million in this case, or come back and give nothing to Mr. Matthews.
Matthew’s lawyer, Gregory Lattimer from Washington D.C, says that St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar had policies in place at the time that led to many problems. St. Louis County police say they will speak after the trial.