Federal suit filed against Columbia cop, city

Federal suit filed against Columbia cop, city
Gavel on sounding block (Source: Gray News)

COLUMBIA, Miss. (WDAM) - A civil complaint was filed in federal court last month saying that a Columbia police officer and the city itself had violated the constitutional rights of a jailed detainee by denying him due process.

Jessie Domenique Jefferson’s complaint also says that Nathan Cook, “individually and as a Columbia Police Department officer,” and the city broke state law after Jefferson was subjected to “excessive force.”

Jefferson’s complaint, filed June 20 in the United States District Court for the Southeast District of Mississippi’s Eastern Division, asks for compensatory and punitive damages, as determined by the court.

Jefferson’s complaint represents one side of the issue. Neither of the defendants, Cook nor the City of Columbia, had filed a response through early Monday afternoon.

Jefferson, currently a Jackson resident, was living in Columbia in October 2018.

In the complaint, Jefferson said he had cashed out of a dice game after growing hungry, receiving a $100 bill as his winnings.

Jefferson said he went to a local establishment, The Shed, offered the $100 bill as payment and was told the bill was fine. Still, Jefferson’s complaint said he felt something was wrong, that the bill might be a counterfeit, so he left.

As he did so, he was met by a restaurant employee returning from a bank, assuring him the bill was fine and that he should head back to The Shed.

As he arrived, he noticed a police officer inside, and detoured to a nearby grocery store, where the officer followed.

Jefferson’s complaint says that’s when he approached the officer and told him, “I’m the guy you’re looking for.”

Jefferson was arrested and taken to jail, where he was taken to talk with Cook and another officer, Ryan Williams.

Jefferson’s complaint said the duo tried to turn him, get him to wear a wire and set up drug buys.

The complaint said he initially turned down the opportunity.

Jefferson said he continued to insist he had no idea the $100 bill was counterfeit and was hoping to get his bond set.

He went to jail for the night, but in the morning, was taken back to Cook and Williams, who offered him the same deal. The complaint said Jefferson agreed this time, was wired up and given $60 as “buy money.”

But the complaint said Jefferson never went through with the scheme, ripping off the wire shortly after being released and then disappearing for a few days.

But soon, Jefferson said he was picked up again and brought to Cook again.

The complaint said Jefferson was “zip-tied” to a chair, and then struck with a ruler by Cook, which shattered on contact. The complaint says Cook then placed the legs of a chair on Jefferson’s feet and sat, causing “excruciating pain.”

The complaint says Cook then drew a Smith & Wesson revolver and placed it against Jefferson’s head.

“I should shoot you and say you reached for it,” the complaint says Cook said.

The complaint alleges that Cook’s actions were made known to his superiors, and although an internal investigation was conducted, no action has been taken.

The complaint alleges Jefferson, “a citizen committing no crime and posing no threat to Cook or any other person,” had been subjected to actions that “violated clearly established law, were objectively unreasonable and were committed with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff.”

The complaint insists that Jefferson’s constitutional rights were violated and that he suffered physical and emotional damage.

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