GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) — A lawsuit has been filed by a person who was arrested last October, alleging excessive force by five arresting Greenville police officers.
Demarcus Fox filed the lawsuit Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Fox, a former East Carolina University football player, filed the lawsuit against the City of Greenville and the five police officers, alleging the city and the officers violated his constitutional rights “by subjecting him to excessive force during the course of an unlawful arrest,” according to a media release from Civil Rights Attorney Brandon S. Atwater of the Wake County Bar.
The complaint states Fox is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $1 million. It lists Greenville Police Officers Keith L. Knox, Brice A. Wordsworth, Justin L. White, Kurt F. Puerto and Justin Wooten as defendants in the case.
The media release states that the complaint filed by Fox states that “on October 7, 2022, during the course of a traffic stop, the defendant officers, while screaming vulgar profanity, initiated physical contact with Fox by forcefully pulling him by his hair. Fox, who is African-American and who wears his hair in dreadlocks, a hairstyle characterized by long rope-like strands formed by braiding and/or matting, alleges that the officers pulled his hair with such force, that multiple locs were ripped out.
“The Complaint further alleges that officers continued their excessive force against Fox by slamming him to the ground, placing a knee on his neck, repeatedly punching and kneeing him, and needlessly grinding his face into the ground.
“The Complaint further alleges officers intentionally failed to activate and/or deactivated their body-worn cameras during the course of the arrest. Fox further alleges that cell phone video footage of the arrest, recorded by a third-party eyewitness, shows that the officers used excessive force, in clear violation of his constitutional rights.”
Fox was charged with Fleeing/Eluding Arrest and Resisting a Public Officer. The complaint also states all charges were dropped on Jan. 18, 2023.
“Of course, he wants justice and vindication of his rights,” Atwater told WNCT’s Erin Jenkins on Wednesday. “He wants accountability. He wants to make sure appropriate action is taken against the officers. “He wants the City of Greenville and its police officers to know they can’t continue to do this, and to the extent possible he wants to be made whole. And, of course, he wants changes.”
There is a video associated with the incident. WNCT is not posting the entire video to its website due to the language in it.
The City of Greenville issued a statement Tuesday about the lawsuit.
“The City of Greenville takes public safety very seriously, and the Police Department works diligently to keep the community safe.
“City officials are aware of the lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Fox, and the associated video that is circulating. It should be noted that the video includes only a portion of the events from that evening. While we do not discuss specifics of pending litigation, the City will vigorously defend this lawsuit and is eagerly anticipating the chance to provide all of the details of what occurred to the court.“