Civil rights attorney Ben Crump takes on man's excessive force suit against Orlando police

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump takes on man's excessive force suit against Orlando police
© Greg Nash

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin and is currently representing the family of George Floyd, will take on the case of a homeless Orlando, Fla., man who alleges police violated his civil rights during an arrest in 2015.

Terre Johnson, who is already represented by Central Florida attorney Natalie Jackson, first filed suit against the city of Orlando and Officer James Wilson in 2018, according to the Orlando Sentinel. District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. last week refused to dismiss Johnson’s lawsuit under qualified immunity, a controversial legal doctrine that shields government employees from civil liability for actions taken on duty, and which opponents have said gives police in particular broad leeway to violate civil rights.

The lawsuit claims Wilson wrongly detained Johnson in August 2015, telling him he was on city property because his feet were in the street.

ADVERTISEMENT

An argument ensued, during which Johnson told Wilson to “get out of [his] face” and that he “love[d] beating up cops.” As he moved to walk away, Wilson followed him with his stun gun out, prompting Johnson to say “I wish you would,” after which Johnson alleged Wilson tackled and assaulted him, according to the Sentinel.

“Despite the lack of resistance, too close to fire his taser, and with no further orders or indication that Johnson was under arrest, Wilson body slammed Johnson onto the asphalt,” Dalton wrote.

Johnson was charged with resisting arrest with violence, resisting arrest without violence and battery on a law enforcement officer. A judge dismissed the resisting charges in 2016 and downgraded the battery on a law enforcement charge to simple battery, for which a jury acquitted him.

Meanwhile, an Orlando Police Department internal investigation cleared Wilson on allegations of using excessive force but he was orally reprimanded for “mocking” Johnson and using “insolent language,” according to the newspaper. Johnson has claimed Wilson made monkey-like arm gestures, which Wilson has denied.