The mother of an East St. Louis boy is suing the City of East St. Louis, Police Chief James Mister, and two officers she claims severely beat her son in the head, face and body without provocation.
Ernestine Price alleges officer Tony McWherter and officer Coleman threw her son Robert C. Price down to the ground and "unmercifully" punched him in the face, throat and stomach during the afternoon of Sept. 11.
"...Plaintiff Robert C. Price, a minor, was a pedestrian standing on a sidewalk...quietly and peacefully talking with friends," states the complaint filed Nov. 15 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.
Represented by Stephen R. Clark of Courtney, Clark & Associates in Belleville, Price is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $90,000, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs of the suit.
Price claims McWherter used his night stick as well as maced her son "thereby inflicting upon plaintiff cruel and unusual punishment and serious bodily injury."
"The acts of Officers McWherter and Coleman, in beating the plaintiff, violated Constitutional rights guaranteed under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States," the complaint states. "Plaintiff's civil rights to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure was violated. Plaintiff's right to be afforded due process of law prior to the infliction of punishment for his conduct was also violated."
Price claims the city failed to properly train its officers in the use of reasonable force, rights of pretrial detainees and statutory protection as required by law.
She also claims the city failed to discipline the officers, recklessly condoned the officers' conduct and provided select officers "special treatment permitting them to act in ways that suit their purpose, regardless of the inconsistency of such actions with written procedures and policies."
"That the above stated policies, customs and usages of the defendant, City of East St. Louis, created a foreseeable risk that citizens would be subjected to unjustified assaults and beatings from officers who were either improperly trained or who had been treated on prior occasions in such fashion as to understand that laws, rules and regulations did not serve to limit their conduct," the complaint states.