A Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) officer, Adam Feaman, is being sued in a federal civil rights lawsuit for allegedly striking a man in the face with his flashlight. Feaman, who was the Officer of the Year for 2016, attempted to arrest Jamal White for "violating a city noise ordinance with his car and disturbing the peace" in August of 2017.
Resisting the unlawful arrest, supposedly, White ran when Feaman told him to "turn around" and place his hands behind his back. But not getting very far and possibly attempting to contest the arrest, White turned around and faced the officer. Feaman continued giving orders to White but the young man reportedly did not comply.
Feaman then used his service issued flashlight to strike White in the face, knocking him nearly unconscious. Flashlights issued to police officers are not the garden variety found at the local Walmart. They're made of metal using ballistic materials and fashioned in such a way as to be used for self defense, and breaking out car glass, etc.
Feaman's strike to the jaw was caught on a bystander's camera and has recently gone viral. Complicating matters for Feaman was the fact he struck White a second time while he was face down on the ground. The officer's flashlight was used to strike White in the back of the head, an attack which could have killed the young man.
Under deposition, Feaman would not answer any questions from Jermaine Wooten, White's attorney. But according to the police report, Feaman claims he did not intentionally hit White in the face with his flashlight. He claims he was trying to hit him in the shoulder but blames White for moving thereby getting struck in the jaw.
Such an excuse may seem suitable for the first strike but does not explain how hitting the young man in the back of the head while he's on the ground could be permitted. Using any tactical flashlight to attack a person is reportedly against SLMPD policy which says tactical flashlights "may not be used as impact weapons".
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Making matters worse for Feaman is the fact the officer has been accused of excessive force on numerous occasions. According to the Riverfront Times, before White was struck in the jaw, cracking his bone, Officer Feaman was involved in several controversial arrests. The Riverfront Times writes:
In 2010, a 22-year-old black man filed a complaint alleging that Officer Feaman had pulled him over and directed racial slurs at him, the records show. The next year, 2011, a 22-year-old black man complained that Officer Feaman planted drugs on him, and that while Feaman arrested him, another officer hit him in the face multiple times.
In 2012, a 21-year-old black man filed a complaint alleging that Officer Feaman had punched him in the face, using unnecessary violence. Two years later, in 2014, a 31-year-old black man alleged that Officer Feaman and another officer stole $400 from his car during a traffic stop.
While the aforementioned accusations may be entirely fabricated, what is true is a SLMPD officer was caught on camera cracking a man's jaw with his flashlight for playing loud music.
What's more, Feaman did not stop with a simple badge-protected assault on the young man's civil rights. He allegedly attempted to intimidate White when the two were in the same bar in September of 2017. Feaman reportedly promised to "crack his jaw again," a threat the bar seemed to take seriously, actually escorting the officer off the premises.
White's case against the officer is proceeding. We will continue to make the details of the lawsuit public as more details become available. For now, you decide. Did the officer have the right to hit White in the face for resisting arrest and turning toward the officer?