Inmate who sued law enforcement over excessive force arrest released from jail
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The man who filed a federal lawsuit against New Hanover County law enforcement officers claiming they used excessive force while taking him into custody during a November encounter that went viral has been released from jail.
A bond hearing was held Thursday afternoon for Hiram Farmer, 35, who is at the center of the video in which a deputy with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office can be seen punching him, while officers were attempting to restrain him outside a store on Greenfield Street.
Video of the encounter was posted to social media and sparked a furor over the apparent use of excessive force.
When questioned in November about the incident, Lt. Jerry Brewer, a spokesperson for the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, said the deputy’s use of excessive force was warranted as the video showed Farmer trying to bite they deputy. Brewer said the deputy who was bitten had to seek medical attention
Farmer disagrees and said he believes excessive force was not warranted, which is why he filed a federal lawsuit on Jan. 22.
Before Thursday’s bond hearing, about a dozen of Farmer’s family, friends and supporters, gathered chanting “Free Hiram Farmer,” holding signs reading “Justice for Hiram Farmer.”
During the hearing, Farmer’s attorney, Michael Littlejohn, asked that his current $30,000 dollar secured bond be changed to unsecured, citing that he needs to start a treatment plan at Coastal Horizons for his current mental health issues. Littlejohn also noted that Farmer has no prior convictions on assaulting government officials.
Farmer’s mother had taken involuntary commitment papers out on her son in November, who has a history of being aggressive, according to police. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office said Farmer has been arrested 40 times in the last 18 years.
Prosecutors offered no push back to the bond becoming unsecured, stating they realized this matter arose from family concerns about Farmer’s mental health.
The judge unsecured the bond and grant a pre-trial release for Farmer. The judge also ordered Farmer start mental health treatment immediately and must reside with his grandmother.
“This is very good news. We are elated...so happy," said Mary Scott, Farmer’s grandmother. "Hiram is a good boy and a good man, God is good. We all prayed for this victory today and we got this.”
“We are happy he can start getting the treatment that he needs, you deserve to be able to get that, and we are happy he can start that process,” said Littlejohn.
Farmer’s lawsuit against law enforcement is still active and has not been dismissed according to Littlejohn. Farmer is seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.
After the Nov. 13 incident, Farmer was involuntarily committed. He was released on Dec. 1, and charged with two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer and two counts of resisting/delay/obstructing a public officer.
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