Lawsuit: Georgia teen arrested, held at gunpoint for seatbelt violation
An incident that one family is calling police brutality has resulted in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a Georgia police department.
High school senior Montre’ Merritt was pulling into his driveway when a Waycross police officer pulled him over on Jan. 18. The officer then got out of his vehicle and pointed a gun at the teen’s head, instructing him to get on the ground and then handcuffed him.
When Merritt’s mother came outside to see why her son was being arrested, the officer said her son had a seat belt violation. Merritt filed a complaint with the Waycross Police Department after the incident.
According to the chief of the department, Officer Cory Gay was found guilty of using excessive force, and he was suspended for five days without pay. Gay was then ordered to take Judgmental Use of Force Training. But Merritt’s family said that’s not enough and Thursday they filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the department.
Merritt, who now attends a four-year university, said he had a 3.5 GPA in high school and was an all-star athlete and he can’t believe this happened to him.
“Coming from me being a huge role model in my community, to see my mom witness that. That was one of the most painful things I could ever imagine for her,” Merritt said. “The pain that I still feel. The tears that I still cry. Everything is just real in reality. I have to wake up with this on my heart and on my mind every day, and it hurts.”
Merritt still has flashbacks from the incident. “That night when it happened, I felt like I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Merritt told News 4. “And just hearing how Mike Brown went about his case for doing the right thing. He still got shot. I just feel like I don’t want any of my friends or family, I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”
Merritt is suing the Waycross Police Department for $12.5 million. He claims one of their officers profiled him, and then used excessive force during a false arrest. The lawsuit also claims negligent supervision, assault and battery, deprivation of civil rights and causing emotional distress.
May justice be served.
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