Teen claiming excessive force by WPD files complaint against city, officer

Teen claiming excessive force by WPD files complaint against city, officer

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Tyrell Rivers claims police used excessive force during his arrest in 2014 and now, he's filed a complaint against the City of Wilmington and the officer involved in his arrest.

The complaint was filed on March 22 and alleges James Coleman Johnson violated Rivers' Fourteenth Amendment rights with use of excessive and unlawful force.

Johnson was a corporal with the Wilmington Police Department at the time of the incident.

The complaint goes on to say his actions were "unnecessary and intentional and malicious, and it inflicted unnecessary and wanton terror, pain and suffering upon [Rivers]."

Rivers, who was 16 at the time, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, along with other relief as part of the suit.

The complaint claims the city of Wilmington is liable for Johnson's actions because he was acting in his official duties as a police officer employed by the city.

Rivers requested that all matters be tried before a jury, that would determine the amount, if any, in compensatory damages from the city and Johnson, punitive damages against Johnson to the extent allowed by law, and attorney fees related to filing the complaint.

The incident happened a little more than two years ago on April 4, 2014.

Cpl. Johnson and other officers with the WPD arrested Rivers on alleged drug possession charges.

Court documents state Rivers was placed in handcuffs and put in the back of Johnson's patrol car.

The complaint says that Johnson became angry after Rivers kicked the interior of the door of the patrol car, and placed his hands on the teen's neck, yelling, "Do you hear me? Don't kick my ******* door. You understand me, little *****?"

After the first assault, the complaint states Johnson removed Rivers from the vehicle, placed hobble straps on his legs, then forced him back in. Rivers again began kicking the door, at which point Johnson climbed on top of his body, placed his hands around Rivers' neck and said "Do you want to die in the back seat of my car?"

Video of the incident was captured by a camera in the police cruiser. That video was given to the State Bureau of Investigation to review, and has not been released to the public.

Johnson was placed on unpaid suspension following the incident. A grand jury indicted him three months after the incident on misdemeanor charges of simple assault and willful failure to discharge duties.

According to the New Hanover County District Attorney's Office, Johnson's trial is set for May 31.

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