Fayetteville man suing city after he says excessive force used during 2019 arrest caused concussion, other injuries

North Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fayetteville man says excessive force was used during his arrest in 2019, causing him to have a concussion and other injuries.

Robert Edwards is suing the city for his medical expenses and pain and suffering.

The City of Fayetteville defends the officer’s action, and says the officer did not use excessive force.

Edwards says he and his granddaughter called police for help because his granddaughter’s ex-boyfriend had threatened both of them with a gun. 

CBS 17 requested two retired NYPD officers – Robert Young and James Johnson – to review the body camera video released in this case.

The body camera footage shows both Edwards and his granddaughter hitting the other man in front of officers.

Both retired officers say this is probable cause to arrest both Edwards and the granddaughter.

“In my eyes the officers didn’t do anything wrong,” Young said. 

There is also an ongoing verbal altercation between the three, while the granddaughter continues to yell profanities at officers.

Edwards was told by officers to step back away from the other man, but the video shows he continued to press forward. 

“He (the officer) told him not to come forward again and he did not listen to directions,” Young sad. 

Edwards was then taken to the ground and handcuffed. 

The video shows Edwards on the ground not responding immediately after that happened, snoring several times and not being coherent while the officers checked on him. 

During this time his granddaughter was screaming “Black Lives Matter” and “This is what the white cops do to you, this is why you don’t call the police.”

Edwards says excessive force was used on him during the arrest because he is black. 

“Me being black, there is no other reason for you to jump on a 63-year-old man,” Edwards said. 

“It looks like they leg sweep him and he goes headfirst into the pavement, resulting in a concussion, brain bleed, and a bruised brain,” said Michael Porter, Edwards’ attorney. “In no instance should a 63-year-old frail cancer patient be body slammed.”

“Not everybody can be arrested easily, it’s not an easy part of the job and people do get hurt during those incidents,” Young said.

In body camera footage after the arrest, you can hear an officer telling Edwards:

“I’ve got an ambulance coming to check you out because you hit your head pretty hard. I put you on the ground because you weren’t listening, you were trying to fight the other young man in the street.”

Johnson and Young say they did not see any racial bias coming from officers in the video. 

“You saw the officers being very polite,” Johnson said. “If you put all that together, they handled this in the correct way that’s both tactically sound and even socially acceptable to an objective person.” 

“I don’t believe excessive force was used at all,” Young said. “I believe that he did what he had to do.”

Edwards says he was taken to the hospital after his arrest, and then taken to jail before going home that night. 

Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West says his office dropped the resisting arrest charge filed against Edwards.

The City of Fayetteville sent this statement regarding the case:

“The City of Fayetteville is aware of the potential lawsuit that will be filed by Mr. Edwards. There is body camera footage of the incident which includes the events leading up to Mr. Edwards’s arrest. Pursuant to a court order allowing the release of the body camera footage the Fayetteville City Council did review the footage. In anticipation of potential litigation a use of force expert also reviewed the footage and determined that the actions of Officer Guilette were appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances and that Officer Guilette used the least amount of effective force to control the situation. The City intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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