A Black man, believed to be unarmed, was intentionally ran over by a police car in Kentucky outside of a small motel in north-central Kentucky, according to a new lawsuit. The police maintain the man was drunk and tried “evading police” when placed under arrest.
Anthony Gray is suing the city of Radcliff after an officer purposely weaponized his vehicle and smashed the man’s tibia with the weight of the car at a Gold Vault Inn on Sept. 7, 2021, on North Dixie Boulevard around 2 a.m.
The federal lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, March 22, in a U.S. District Court, alleges the officers used excessive force and violated his civil rights during the altercation and also names Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall, Radcliff Police Chief Jeff Cross, RPD employees, Willie Wells, and Jeff Foster as defendants.
On the night in question, the Radcliff police were called to the motel to secure a possible trespasser who was roaming the property, the filing reports.
Upon arrival, the officers encountered Gray, who alleges he was leaving the grounds because he was treated rudely by the hotel’s staff.
Gray’s attorney, Aaron Bentley, said the officers should have left his client alone.
However, that didn’t happen. The lawyer alleged that with “suddenly, no reason, no justification, no warning” one of the officers restrained Gray by his arm, an action that frightened Gray and caused him to attempt to flee the scene.
Officer Robert Stephens has been identified as the officer in the bodycam video who reached for Gray’s arm.
“Anthony was scared and ran away,” Bentley explained to WDRB.
Police bodycam video of the incident shows Gray arguing with Stephens as he runs away saying, “No, I’m not going to jail.”
Stephens answers him as the man runs away on foot, “Yes, you are.” Gray responded by saying he was unarmed.
At this point, Officer Justin Skaggs engages in the chase. He is driving his car, and, according to the lawsuit documents, turns his car about 180 degrees and rams it into Gray.
Skaggs, the filing states, executed a PIT, a precision intervention technique, a procedure designed to impede a fleeing vehicle, but not intended to stop an “unprotected human being,” the Courier-Journal reports.
The body camera on the officer does not clearly reveal what exactly happened, but shows Gray beside the police vehicle crying out in pain and asking to be taken to a hospital. Dashcam footage also showed the 32-year-old asking for medical attention.
Gray says, “I didn’t do nothing wrong, sir. But you ran my foot over.”
In disbelief, Skaggs asks one of his colleagues if Gray is telling the truth and the other officer responds, “I believe his leg was run over by a police car.”
Bentley states, “By every indication, he intentionally runs the car into Anthony, runs over his leg and foot, causing pretty severe injuries.”
The incident report, filled out by the officers, said Gray “ran into the right front corner” of Skaggs’ car, and from the impact “Gray was knocked to the ground and his left foot was run over by the right front tire.”
“I’m not aware of any situation in which a police officer is authorized to use a vehicle to hit, to stop a person,” Bentley said.
He continued saying his client “was unarmed. He did not threaten any police officer. And yet, for some unknown reason … Officer Skaggs just ran right into him with his car.”
“Gray had committed, at most, a minor, non-violent offense … and there was no reason to believe that Gray posed a risk of danger to anyone,” read the suit.
The lawsuit documents indicate Skaggs faced no disciplinary action as a result of allegedly running Gray over and claims Radcliff Police Chief Jeffrey Cross and two supervisors failed to train and supervise the officers properly.
The Radcliff Police Capt. Willie Wells confirmed Skaggs is still employed by the department and stated he would not be commenting on pending litigation.
However, Gray has been charged with first-degree fleeing or evading police on foot, third-degree criminal trespassing, and first and second offense alcohol intoxication in a public place, pleading not guilty to all counts. He was released on a $250 unsecured bond.
If convicted of the fleeing or evading charge, considered a Class D felony in Kentucky, he could face one to five years in prison.
Bentley says, in the lawsuit, his client wants a trial by jury and is seeking unspecified monetary damages for his physical and mental injuries.