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Despite having this negative experience, Merritt has managed to find a light in the darkness. He plans on starting a mentoring program to teach kids of all races to know and understand their rights.

Waycross, GA — High school senior and community role model, Montre` Merritt’s life was forever changed the night he was thrown to the ground and held at gun point in his own driveway by an overzealous police officer.

On January 18, Merritt was pulling into his driveway when a Waycross police officer pulled up behind him and jumped out of his cruiser, pistol drawn.

Merritt was then forced to the ground with the gun pointed at his head, and handcuffed.

Hearing the commotion in the front yard, Merritt’s mother came outside. She asked the officer why her son was lying on the ground in cuffs with a gun pointed at him, and the officer told her that Merritt was driving without his seat belt on.

Immediately following this ridiculous excessive force and violation of rights, Merritt filed a complaint with the Waycross police department.

According to the chief of the department, Officer Cory Gay was found guilty of using excessive force, and he was suspended for five days without pay. Gay was then ordered to take Judgmental Use of Force Training. But Merritt’s family said that’s not enough and Thursday they filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the department.

Merritt, who is now in college, says he cannot believe that this happened to him.

Merritt opened up to News 4, saying, “Coming from me being a huge role model in my community, to see my mom witness that. That was one of the most painful things I could ever imagine for her,” he said. “The pain that I still feel. The tears that I still cry. Everything is just real in reality. I have to wake up with this on my heart and on my mind every day, and it hurts.”

Merritt said he still has flashbacks from the incident.

“That night when it happened, I felt like I could have been another Trayvon Martin case,” Merritt said. “And just hearing how Mike Brown went about his case for doing the right thing. He still got shot. I just feel like I don’t want any of my friends or family, I don’t want that to happen to anybody.”

According to a $12.5 million lawsuit filed Thursday by Merritt’s lawyer, Reginald Greene, Merritt is suing the Waycross Police Department, claiming one of their officers racially profiled Merritt, and then used excessive force in a false arrest. The lawsuit also claims negligent supervision, assault and battery, deprivation of civil rights, and causing emotional distress.

Despite having this negative experience, Merritt has managed to find a light in the darkness. He plans on starting a mentoring program to teach kids of all races to know and understand their rights.

Families from Georgia and Florida who’ve lost loved ones through police violence gathered at a town hall meeting in Waycross Thursday evening to discuss the problem of police brutality.

“It’s just a shame that people are killing and killing and ain’t nothing being done about it,” said Sandra Gandy, whose son was shot 12 times by police in 2005. “Police just getting off. And I say that because my son was begging for his life.”

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