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Ferguson police target of $60 million lawsuit for false arrests

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FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) -Accusations of police brutality and false arrests form the foundation of a federal civil rights lawsuit that was amended Thursday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

Ten plaintiffs are now part of the lawsuit.   Some say they were arrested for no reason between August 11 and 13 by police from St. Louis County and Ferguson departments.  Others cite injuries caused by projectiles that struck them.
Attorney Greg Lattimer said the charges were "failure to disperse" even for a woman and her minor aged son who were inside a McDonald's restaurant waiting for a ride home on August 13.
The federal lawsuit  names County Police Chief Jon Belmar, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, Ferguson Police Officer Justin Cosma , other unnamed police officers from both departments and both the city of Ferguson and St. Louis County as defendants. Malike Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice, said the lawsuit seeks at least $60 million dollars in damages.
23-year old Dwayne Matthews, Jr. said he had come to Ferguson by bus to check on his mother who lived there.  "I was walking down West Florissant when I saw eight police at Highmont; I put my hands in the air, but was shot in the elbow, abdomen and legs."
Matthews believes he was shot with rubber bullets.  He said he fell down into a creek or sewer and officers slammed his face into the water.  Matthews was also told he was arrested for failing to disperse.
"It was a bogus charge manufactured  by the police in order to justify illegal  arrest.  That is exactly what the constitution disallows in this country," said Lattimer.  Lattimer went on to say, " When you throw away the Constitution simply because you feel that you're in a hostile environment, that is a disservice to everybody."
Both Ferguson Chief Jackson and St. Louis County Chief Belmar have said their officers do not carry rubber bullets.