Suit Against Pine Lawn Police Alleges Beating, False Arrest

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A St. Louis County man has sued the city of Pine Lawn, alleging a police officer there handcuffed him, beat him, and arrested him on false charges after he declined to provide his identification.

The police force in the tiny north county suburb was dissolved last month, but the suit says the city is still liable for its actions. The department, which had just eight full-time officers, has become synonymous with corruption thanks in part to officers like Steven Blakeney, who was found guilty earlier this year of conspiring to arrest a mayoral candidate.

The suit, filed yesterday in federal court, alleges a lower-level, but no less troubling, abuse of power.

Pine Lawn resident Tracy Hurd says he was sitting on his porch in May 2015 when a fight broke out between two women. When police responded, Hurd cooperated and explained what he had observed.

Then officer Gregory Taylor asked for his ID — even though, the suit notes, Taylor "knew Hurd's identity already." Hurd told Taylor that he already knew who he was, and asked him to leave.

That's when Taylor allegedly told Hurd "do as your told" and, removing his handcuffs from his belt, said, "If you resist, I'll beat the shit out of you." After cuffing Hurd, Taylor allegedly punched him, picked him up and threw him to the concrete below, and joined with other officers in hitting and kicking him, according to the suit. Hurd was left with injuries to his eye, face, arm and leg.

Adding insult to injury, the officers then arrested Hurd for assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failure to comply with a police officer.

Charges were never actually filed in court, and days later, the department suspended Taylor. He was soon fired.

One month later, Taylor filed suit against the department, alleging that he'd been terminated without being given a reason, and alleging that he was fired for his age, race and gender. (He is representing himself.) That suit is still ongoing.

Hurd's suit alleges use of excessive force and assault and battery against Taylor, and failure to supervise on the part of Pine Lawn and its police chief. He is being represented by attorney Talmage E. Newton IV.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com


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