Local News

Three Raleigh police officers named in lawsuit

Posted February 24, 2010 12:42 p.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2010 4:55 p.m. EST

A man with cerebral palsy who claims he was repeatedly kicked and assaulted outside a downtown bar is suing the Raleigh Police Department and several police officers.

Charles Payne, 34, says in the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court that an off-duty police officer and bouncer at The Pourch/The Bassment thought he was drunk and threw him to the ground and started kicking him when he tried to explain his disability.

According to the complaint, the officer was trying to place handcuffs on Payne but was unable to cuff one of his arms because of his limited mobility.

At some point, two other police officers who were on duty joined in the alleged assault, the complaint says, and those officers later threw Payne into a police car and tied his legs together with rope.

At one point, the complaint says, Payne heard one of the officers say, "We have to get our stories straight because he is a drunk autistic kid."

"Anybody with any sense at all could tell that he suffers from a debilitating disease," Payne's attorney, Woody Webb, said Wednesday.

Payne says he had been at the bar on the night of Aug. 8, 2008, looking for a friend but had not been drinking.

"He hadn't had anything to drink whatsoever," Webb said. "Later blood-alcohol tests confirmed that he had no alcohol in his system whatsover."

Payne was arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing and resisting arrest. The charges were later dismissed.

Webb said an internal affairs investigation is under way within the police department but that his client has waited long enough for relief.

"It had severe consequences for him, both physically and emotionally."

The city of Raleigh and the bar are also named in the lawsuit. None of the parties had any comment Wednesday.

Two of the officers are listed in the complaint as John Doe.

The third officer, Peter T. Morrison, 36, has been with the police department since January 2000 and is a senior officer with the Special Operations Division, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.