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As one officer covers body camera, another is seen leaning in to allegedly beat the man’s face with his flashlight
Disturbing Language/Content Ahead
ASH FLAT, Ark. – A civil rights lawsuit against several police officers and their government agencies in Sharp County alleges a man was “body slammed” and struck in the face with a flash light while handcuffed. An anonymous viewer noticed our publication of the press release by the attorneys representing the man and sent us video showing some of the incidents which transpired that evening.
The video isn’t clear but several moments in it are clearly disturbing.
Attorneys James Harris and Zachary Morrison of Blytheville allege that on November 12, 2016, officers responded to Randall Veazie’s home in Ash Flat. He was apparently intoxicated. But what said to have happened next is alleged police brutality and a systemic cover-up of the case by those involved.
The video begins by showing officers standing over the intoxicated Veazie. He is already on the ground, handcuffed. The lawsuit alleges he has been body-slammed by Officer Josh Trivitt, while in cuffs. Officer Tom Rigsby is yelling in his deep country accent at Veazie to, “shut the fuck up.” Then, as Rigsby leans down, Trivitt takes his hand and deliberately covers up his body camera.
During this time, you hear loud clicks as Rigsby beats the intoxicated man in the face with a metal flashlight. This caused a left nasal bone fracture, a mid-line mandibular fracture, a comminuted dislocated mandibular head, and multiple deep lacerations to Veazie’s face, neck, and head. His attorney said that his medical bills to date have exceeded $50,000.
Veazie refused to “shut up” throughout the brutal incident. This seemed to be the source of the aggression for the officers involved.
“Hey, we don’t have a mask do we?” asks Rigsby
Veazie seems surprised by the notion and asks “really?”
“Yeah, cause you won’t shut the fuck up,” Rigsby says. “And…spit.”
This is how the officers appear to lay the ground work for alleging the man spit at them – which in their minds, justified a felony level assault with weapons. To these uniformed public servants, they seemed only to want the man to stop arguing with them and when he refuses, he is “spitting” on police. He denied it throughout the encounter, even as officers laughed at his predicament. This is all seen in the video.
“Fuck. He’s bleeding bad.” – Officer Josh Trivitt
As the man continues to bleed profusely while on the ground, the officers refuse the man medical attention until he “shuts up.”
“Hey hey hey hey,” says one of the portly officers. “If you’ll shut up, we will get you..HEY. If you shut up, we will get you some.”
Veazie attempts to reason with the officers. However, as Trivitt returns from his patrol unit, he justifies his position in the encounter, whatever the viewer decides that to be, with this quote:
“Yeah, well, you don’t spit on people, either,” Trivitt said.
The man denies spitting on anyone, as heard in the video. Trivitt tells him, “the hell you didn’t.”
The intoxicated man continues to argue. Reason is not his strong suit in the moment. He is heard groaning as one officer complains about the amount of blood in his car. He then said he didn’t want the suspect in his car.
It seems the unusual delay sparked the curiosity of the dispatcher at this point in the video. A voice is heard checking in over the radio. Trivitt radios in to dispatch the explanation for their delay.
“We’re just trying to get him…to where he can’t kick the windows out,” Trivitt states.
One significant element missing from the beginning of the video is evidence of the handcuffed man being body-slammed by Officer Trivitt. But as the police all drive off, the video nears its conclusion. It is in these closing moments the officer remarks to himself about his accomplishment.
“I slammed his fucking ass,” Trivitt states on the body camera.
The lawsuit states this isn’t the first time Trivitt has used his uniform to get away with similar physical behavior. It alleges he has, on at least two previous incidents, slammed arrestees under similar circumstances.
The incident is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Arkansas State Police, according to Morrison in the press release. NEA Report reached out to the FBI to attempt to confirm this and will update this part of the story once we received more information.
“I am appalled at the actions of these individual officers, as well by the inaction of the leadership of their departments in failing to correct the officer’s gross misconduct,” said attorney Harris.
The lawsuit is being brought against officers Josh Trivitt, Colton Wilson, Jack Lowe, Tom Rigsby, Ash Flat Chief of Police Anthony Whiles, Cherokee Village Chief of Police Rickey Crook, and Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts. It names them as individuals and in their professional capacities. Ash Flat, Cherokee Village and Sharp County are also named in the suit, alleging they employed the aforementioned officers while having, “prior notice of the vicious propensities of the Defendant law enforcement officers.” It states the cities and county, “took no steps to train them, correct their abuse of authority, or to discourage their unlawful use of authority.”
The suit asks for damages for permanent and debilitating injuries which impaired the defendant’s ability to work along with pain and suffering, medical bills, and attorney’s fees. A jury trial is demanded in the case.