Witnesses claim brutality

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - Several witnesses have alleged excessive police force was used Thursday following a routine traffic stop in front of a Hattiesburg business.

Cassie Myers said she was travelling with her boyfriend, Frederick Russell, when he was pulled over by Petal police for a seat belt violation in front of School and Carnival on Highway 42.

Myers, along with two witnesses who were working at a nearby business, said during the course of the traffic stop officers asked Russell to step out of the vehicle and soon began beating him without provocation.

Witnesses said two police officers hit Russell with a baton and sprayed him with pepper spray.

An employee at School and Carnival who also witnessed the incident agreed with the account.

Sergeant Matthew Hiatt of the Petal Police Department confirmed a traffic stop led to a further incident, and a person was arrested, but would not comment further.

Myers planned on filing a formal complaint with the department Thursday.

Police said they will investigate all formal complaints.