A Sharp County man has filed a lawsuit saying police officers beat him so badly during a 2016 arrest that he is permanently disabled as a result.
Randell Lee Veazie suffered a broken nose, a broken and dislocated jawbone, and deep cuts after part-time Ash Flat officer Tom Rigsby hit him in the face with a flashlight, according to the lawsuit filed in Sharp County Circuit Court.
It was a "permanent and debilitating injury with resulting impairment in his functioning," according to the lawsuit filed May 16 by James W. Harris and Zachary W. Morrison of Blytheville, Veazie's attorneys.
They are requesting a jury trial and damages.
Named as defendants are two Ash Flat police officers, a Cherokee Village police officer and a man who was a deputy with the Sharp County sheriff's office at the time of the incident. Also named as defendants were the police chiefs in those cities, Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts and the cities and county.
On Nov. 12, 2016, the sheriff's office received a 911 call regarding Veazie, who was 39 years old at the time.
Rigsby and Cherokee Village police officer Josh Trivitt responded to the call at Veazie's residence, where his wife, daughter and mother-in-law were also present, according to the lawsuit.
After finding Veazie "in a state of apparent intoxication," the officers handcuffed him, according to the suit.
Then Trivitt "body slammed" Veazie to the floor and exclaimed, "I body slammed the motherf*," according to the suit.
"On at least two prior occasions, Defendant Trivitt had body slammed arrestees under similar circumstances," according to the court filing.
According to a report of the Nov. 12, 2016, incident by part-time Ash Flat police officer Colton Wilson, Trivitt pinned Veazie to the floor after Veazie spit on him twice.
Sharp County radio logs indicated Veazie was in custody at 8:34 p.m., but according to the suit, "police video beginning at 9:41 p.m." shows Rigsby standing over Veazie, who is handcuffed and on the ground.
Rigsby yelled at Veazie, telling him to "shut up," then struck him with the head of a "mag light," according to the lawsuit.
Maglite is a brand of flashlight that can hold as many as five D-cell batteries and double as a baton for police officers.
Trivitt "covered his body camera lens with his right hand, obviously in an attempt to conceal any evidence as to what happened," according to the suit.
Veazie was placed in Wilson's car to be taken to a hospital.
After he began driving, Wilson stopped the car and dragged Veazie out into the street, causing him to hit his chin on the pavement, resulting in more bleeding, according to the lawsuit.
Wilson wrote in his report that he had stopped the car because Veazie was trying to kick the back window out. When Wilson opened the car door, Veazie kicked at him, and Wilson grabbed Veazie's leg, according to the police report.
As Wilson pulled Veazie out of the car by his leg, Veazie rolled over onto his belly in the car seat, then fell from the car, hitting his chin on the parking lot, according to the report.
The lawsuit says Wilson then bound Veazie's feet as well as his hands and threw him back in the car to take him to the hospital.
Shortly after Veazie requested medical attention, "Trivitt can be heard on the video laughing and saying, 'f***, he's bleeding bad,'" according to the suit.
"As of 9:43 p.m., all the defendant officers can be seen on police video standing around, laughing and mentioning how badly plaintiff was bleeding," according to the court filing. "Also at 9:43 p.m., defendant Trivitt got into his police car and mumbled to himself, 'I slammed his f***ing ass," referring to the body slam that took place inside the home."
The fourth officer named as a defendant was Jack N. Lowe, who was a reserve deputy at the Sharp County sheriff's office at the time of the arrest, said Larry Kissee, the Ash Flat city attorney.
Kissee said the case is being handled by Keith Wren, a Little Rock lawyer, through the Arkansas Municipal League.
Wren said he was new to the case and knew little about it as of Monday.
"I'm in the very early stages of this," he said.
Veazie has had medical expenses of more than $50,000 because of the encounter, according to the lawsuit.
Ash Flat Mayor Larry Fowler said he had been instructed by the Municipal League not to discuss the case.
"At this time they have advised me not to comment," he said. "I don't know much about it, and I would just be talking."
Veazie was charged with battery, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance, all of which are misdemeanors. Those charges are pending, Kissee said.
Metro on 06/12/2018
Print Headline: Left disabled after '16 arrest, Sharp County man says in suit