ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A federal lawsuit claiming civil rights violations by St. Louis County police officers came to an end Friday as a seven-member jury handed down a verdict in favor of the police.
Plaintiff Dwayne Matthews left the courtroom with his legal team saying justice had been denied. They argued Matthews was the victim of excessive force from police. They said he was walking home during the protests on August 10, 2014 and police used excessive force against him.
Matthews claimed he was held under water, pepper-sprayed, and beaten by St. Louis County police.
The defendants said Matthews failed to comply with police instructions.
“We’re very gratified by the verdict,” said Michael Hughes, attorney for the defendants. “We very much appreciate the efforts of the jury and we’re very proud of our police officers you know I think the jury was too.”
One of the attorneys representing Matthews said the jury did not include any African-Americans and felt that made their chances of winning more difficult.
“I think they had a perfect opportunity to do the right thing and they didn’t take it,” said Reginald Greene, Matthews' attorney.
He maintains his client was the victim of excessive force by police.
“He was treated as if he was an agitator and he wasn’t. You talk about projectiles thrown and Molotov cocktails and things of that nature, he wasn’t involved in any of that,” Greene said.
Hughes said police showed tremendous restraint given the circumstances and said the jury agreed.