FAYETTEVILLE — An Elizabethtown police officer has filed a lawsuit against the Fayetteville Police Department that claims police officers there used aggressive force during an incident in December 2014.
Willie Thompson, who is black, says Fayetteville officers used racial profiling and harassed him outside a Walgreens store in the city when three white officers mistook Thompson for a suspect in a prescription fraud case.
The three officers named in the suit are Andrew Dickinson, Thomas Marshburn and Ramon Herrera. Marshburn left the department in early 2015.
“They came up to me already in the position to handcuff me,” Thompson has said previously.
According to reports, Thompson was off duty and using a Redbox video machine when the police officers placed him under arrest. Thompson said the officers ignored his claims that he was an Elizabethtown police officer and placed him in a patrol car.
Although Thompson admits he did not have his law enforcement credentials on him at the time, he said he repeatedly told the officers that his credentials were in his vehicle. It took several minutes for the officers to realize the mistaken identity and turn Thompson loose.
In his lawsuit, Thompson claims that one of the officers walked up to him and immediate began handcuffing him, while the other two became aggressive with him, “causing him great pain and discomfort.
Shortly after the incident, Fayetteville police officials claimed that Thompson matched the description from a Walgreen pharmacist of a prescription fraud suspect. When the Fayetteville officers checked a security camera in the store, it showed that Thompson had not gone inside.
According to The Fayetteville Observer on Friday, Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock said the incident had been “fully investigated” by the department’s Internal Affairs Division, but that he could not comment about any of the three officers involved because of the state’s personnel privacy laws. Dickinson and Herrera remain employed by the city’s police force.
In his lawsuit, which was filed last month, Thompson says he suffered from “mental and emotional distress in the form of severe bouts of crying, insomnia and depression both during and since the unlawful arrest/detention.”
Thompson, who is being represented by attorney Allen Rogers, is seeking a jury trial and damages of more than $25,000.