Brutality case turned over to county

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email | Twitter

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - An investigation into alleged police brutality by two Petal police officers has been turned over to the Forrest County District Attorney's Office.

The case stems from a traffic stop made Thursday which some witnesses said turned ugly.

Cassie Myers was travelling with her boyfriend early Thursday afternoon, when he was pulled over in front of the School and Carnival on Highway 42 by two Petal Police Officers for a seat belt violation. Myers said her boyfriend, Fredrick Russell, complied with the officers directions to provide license information. Following a wait, she said Russell was asked to step out of the vehicle.

"He was told that the officer wanted to talk to him so when he stepped out of the car," said Myers. "They went to the back of the truck, and the officer I guess told him to turn around. So he told him to turn around and I guess he wanted to search him for weapons or something and then he just came up behind him, grabbed both of his arms and slammed him against the truck and then the other officer joined in and then they slammed him against the truck and his hands were behind his back and then they sprayed him with pepper spray."

Two employees at the School and Carnival saw the police officers pull Russell over, and said the situation escalated when Russell was told to step out of the truck.

Kristina Gates said the officers eventually used increased force.

"It took one officer, and then the other officer joined in and that's when they sprayed him with pepper spray," said Gates. "They sprayed him three times and one jabbed him in the face with pepper spray, and then the other one tried to get him down; and that's when the baton stick came out, and the shoes came off. That's when it got excessive."

Manager of the School and Carnival Tammy McLain also witnessed the alleged show of force and added, "Well they hit him twice with the baton stick when he was standing up and put his other arm behind his back again, and after they slammed him against the car and both of his hands were behind him they hit him two more times with the baton; it was uncalled for."

Petal Police said Russell was arrested for disorderly conduct and failure to comply. Sergeant Gavin Guy said the suspect filed a formal complaint with the department on Monday morning.

"At this time we are going to turn the case over to the Forrest County District Attorney's office," said Guy. "We do take this type of complaint very seriously to find if there has been any wrong doing."

Guy said the department spoke to several witnesses about the incident and collected statements. He said all of that information is being turned over to the DA's office.

WDAM spoke with the suspect, Fredrick Russell, by phone Monday. He said he does not know what provoked the alleged excessive police action, but speculates his car, a Chevy Tahoe with a unique paint job, may have attracted the officers' attention.

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