Tennessee Police Officers Accused of Planting Drugs and Beating Suspect
A lawsuit was filed on Thursday accusing Cookeville, Tennessee police of “excessive use of force” and “planting contraband" during a domestic assault arrest last year.
One officer has been placed on leave because of the incident, and five others are named in the federal lawsuit.
Police car video from the Cookeville Police Department captured the incident that triggered the lawsuit.
On the night of June 4, 2007, Carlos Ferrell was stopped by police on a domestic assault warrant. According to the lawsuit, Ferrell's ex-wife, Tiffany, saw Ferrell, called police and was involved in the initial chase.
Once Ferrell came to a stop, he was ordered out of the car by Cookeville Police Officer Chris Melton.
“Put your hands up, and get out of the car,” Melton is heard telling Ferrell on the tape.
Ferrell, 28, exits the car with his arms raised while Officer Jeff Johnson is holding the department’s police dog.
The video shows the dog bite Ferrell several times. Attorney Blair Durham is representing Ferrell.
“The dog is released. The dog then chews into Mr. Ferrell's leg where, of course, he goes to the ground,” he said.
"Your dog just ate my leg off,” Ferrell said on the tape. Durham also accused Melton of planting drugs on Ferrell.
In the dash cam video, Melton is seen searching Ferrell's pockets a number of times.
Then, Durham said, another officer appears to give a signal with his hand, at which point Melton then reaches into his right pocket and looks into the camera.
It’s at that point on the tape that Durham said Melton appears to put drugs in Ferrell's pocket.
“Whoa, Carlos, weed? Now you got you another freaking charge, how about that?"
Melton told Ferrell in the video. Melton has been placed on administrative leave with pay. T
he night of the stop, Ferrell was charged with evading arrest and possession of marijuana.
“That’s a complete drug plant is what I'm alleging. It’s a complete unlawful search, first of all, and it’s a planting of paraphernalia,” Durham said.
Cookeville police said they are "completely cooperating with the TBI (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)."
A representative said the department is not trying to hide anything and doesn’t want to look like it is.
Police took Ferrell to an area hospital for treatment of his injuries.
Durham said Ferrell is no choir boy but that he's never been arrested on violent offenses.
According to his record, Ferrell has two DUIs and a previous drug possession charge.