Police officer Justin Cosma was transferred to Ferguson, Missouri from another department in the state after he was sued for choking and hog-tying a 12-year-old boy.
Cosma made national news this week when he detained a group of journalists during the protests in Ferguson. Like many officers, after he was identified in the protests, reporters looked deeper into his records to see if he had a history of violence.
According to a lawsuit filed in 2012 in Missouri federal court, officers Justin Cosma and Richard Carter assaulted a 12 year old boy out front of his house as he was getting mail from his mailbox.
The lawsuit states that the police randomly approached and questioned the boy while he was out front of his house and asked him if he was recently playing on a nearby highway. When the boy told the officers that he wasn’t, they became confrontational, and attacked the child.
According to the lawsuit, “Unprovoked and without cause, the deputies grabbed [the boy], choked him around the neck and threw him to the ground. The boy was shirtless at the time, and allegedly suffered bruising, choke marks, scrapes and cuts across his body.”
The officers attempted to charge the child with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, but the juvenile courts refused to take the case.
Richard R. Lozano, the lawyer representing the young man in the lawsuit, made the following statement to Huffington Post:
“The lawsuit alleges that Justin Cosma and Richard Carter, two deputies with the Jefferson County, Missouri sheriff’s department in 2010, assaulted my client during an encounter on my client’s driveway while his mother was inside their house. My client was 12 years old at the time, shirtless and was not suspected of any criminal behavior. He was checking the mail. The deputies approached my client and the encounter quickly escalated. My client was restrained, choked, thrown to the ground and hogtied by the two deputies. He suffered scrapes and choke marks to his neck. No charges were ever brought against my client. It is my understanding that Justin Cosma is currently an officer with the City of Ferguson.”
Read the lawsuit laying out the allegations against Cosma below.