• 52°

Local lawsuit claims police brutality

VIDALIA — A civil suit filed in Concordia Parish 7th District Court claims Vidalia police officers used undue force in taking a disabled man into custody in an incident in May.

The suit, which seeks an unspecified amount in damages, alleges the officers kicked the man on his legs, slammed his impaired limb in an SUV door and dragged him across a seat by the neck via a shirt collar.

The incident occurred on May 17, according to the suit that names the City of Vidalia, Police Chief Joey Merrill and Vidalia police officers Robert “TJ” Cross and Josh Brewer, individually.

Merrill, who won reelection Saturday to the Vidalia Chief of Police position, said he was aware of the complaint but declined to comment for this story.

Vidalia Town Clerk Jay Lasyone said the town had not received a copy of the complaint as of Thursday morning.

However, the Vidalia Mayor and Board of Aldermen have scheduled a special-called meeting for 9 a.m. Friday to discuss the issue. That discussion is expected to take place in a closed executive session for personnel matters.

“It will be taking up the recommendations of the chief for disciplinary action in this case,” Lasyone said of Friday’s meeting agenda.

The plaintiff is Jaris Smith, whom the lawsuit identifies as a local resident with a physical disability.

“Mr. Smith has a deformity of his legs due to a birth defect,” the suit states. “One leg is significantly more impaired than the other.”

Smith was sleeping on a bench at a Laundromat when he was arrested by Cross and Brewer, according to the complaint.

“While being placed in the police SUV, TJ Cross intentionally and repeatedly kicked Mr. Smith on the legs, mostly on the most impaired limb,” the complaint states. “TJ Cross further slammed Mr. Smith’s impaired limbs with the door of the SUV. Mr. Smith was further dragged across the back seat of the SUV by the neck via the back of his shirt collar by Josh Brewer. Josh Brewer failed to intervene or failed to timely intervene to avoid Mr. Smith’s injuries caused by the repeated kicks and the slamming of the door to his disabled and malformed limbs.”

The complaint further states that Smith was not offered or provided any medical attention and that he was later released without bond because he was arrested “without cause.”

The incident was captured on video, the complaint states, and was posted on social media: “therefore causing Mr. Smith persistent and ongoing trauma.”

Smith’s attorney in the case, Bridgett Brown of Campbell Brown Law and Consulting of Alexandria, Louisiana, could not provide a copy of the video that was taken by a bystander, she said, because it has been sent to the FBI office in Quantico, Virginia.

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages.

Messages left seeking comment from Brewer and Cross on this story were not returned.

News

Girl Scout cookie time is here for Adams County

News

Brookhaven woman linked to over 15 ounces meth arrested in Adams County

News

Concordia Parish deputies uncover 14 stolen firearms after traffic stop

COVID-19

State reports 1,948 new COVID-19 cases, 41 new deaths amid vaccine shortage

COVID-19

State experiencing surge in patients attempting COVID-19 vaccination

News

Movie filmed in Natchez hits screens Feb. 12

News

Three finalists chosen for Executive Director in Natchez tourism commission

News

Kevin Warren named publisher in Natchez, Brookhaven, Prentiss

News

Girl Scout cookie season kicks off nationally Feb. 1

News

City of Natchez nearing lease agreement for old train depot

News

Former Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick remembered a kind, loving servant

News

City of Natchez to consider financing parks and recreation improvements

ACCS sports

ACCS without starting goalkeeper

News

Photos: Work crews demolish old A&P grocery on Franklin Street; make way for Recovery Enterprises

COVID-19

State reports new COVID-19 cases, deaths

News

Photo gallery: Locals share photos of their snow day

News

CPSO deputies apprehended multiple people for drugs, weapons

BREAKING NEWS

Adams County Tax Collector dies with COVID-19

News

The Dart: Barnett loves her art

News

Photos: Sunday night snow turns downtown into winter wonderland

COVID-19

State reports 2,214 new COVID cases and 22 new COVID-related deaths

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez Adams schools, Cathedral and ACCS cancel in-person classes for Monday

News

Classes at ACCS canceled for Monday

News

Adams County has limited threat for snowfall overnight Sunday to Monday