CHATTANOOGA, TENN (CIRCA VIA WTVC) — A Tennessee civil rights lawyer is demanding police officer seen beating his client in a viral video be fired.
Attorney Lee Merritt spoke detailed Chattanooga resident Charles Toney’s injuries during a news conference Thursday.
“He complained for medical treatment the entire time he was incarcerated. He was refused,” said Merritt. “During the intake, they asked had he involved in a motor vehicle accident – he said yes if that meant he could receive medical treatment. They still refused. There was actually no accident.”
“I was outraged I was angered,” said Merritt, who came from Pennsylvania to cover the case.
Merritt called for the arrest and firing of the deputy seen punching and kicking Toney in the video.
“They can simply call a spade a spade, they can say that is wrong and they can demand what this community demands which is justice,” Merritt said. “There is simply no justification for the use of that kind of violent force.”
Merritt showed hospital paperwork documenting Toney’s injuries after the arrest.
“He suffered a collapsed lung, a broken nose, a broken digit, several broken ribs.”
Toney also goes by his rap name Interstate Tax.
He posted a video to Facebook talking about his arrest.
“They beat me for 10 minutes straight saying they didn’t like my music, they don’t like what I speak about, they don’t like me, they don’t like what I drive,” Toney said.
Several civil rights activists joined the crowd of Toney’s supporters Thursday.
Merritt says he thinks race was a factor.
“It’s an issue of brutality which goes across racial lines,” Merritt said. “However we know the vast majority of assaults by police officers are directed at people of color disproportionately to the population.”
“We are here standing strong because we believe that if we don’t do this today our kids of tomorrow will have to suffer from the same things,” Brandon Woodruff, Toney’s friend, said.
The video shows the officers punching and kicking Charles Toney, while he was handcuffed.
One of the officers involved, Hamilton County Deputy Blake Kilpatrick, is now on limited duty.
Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston has referred the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Merritt says the arrest represents civil rights violations, and are calling for the immediate firing of the officers involved.
Merrit called Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond’s statement that his injuries occurred in an earlier car accident “a fabrication.”
Merritt also said Toney has dealt with “PTSD symptoms” since the incident.
He said Hamilton County officers targeted Toney because of his status as a well-known rapper in the community, adding that officers first referred to him by his stage name.