Lawsuit: Sheffield man sues officers who he claims attacked him with police dog

WAFF's Megan Plotka reporting.
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 11:00 AM CDT
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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WAFF) - One man claims law enforcement officers physically beat, mentally hurt, and took away his constitutional rights. 53-year-old Marvin Long and his attorneys filed a federal lawsuit claiming Colbert County deputies and Sheffield police officers “viciously attacked” him without reasonable suspicion or arguable probable cause.

The lawsuit follows the release of graphic body camera footage of the incident. It started when the 53-year-old Black, disabled veteran went outside to the street in front of his house to see why police cars were blocking the road. The lawsuit states Officer Brett Evans, one of the several named defendants, told Long to get away from the car and threatened to take him to jail if he didn’t move. Long complied with the order and walked back to his home while saying he had rights. Another named defendant, Deputy Tommy Mills told Long to “kick rocks (expletive)” and other expletives.

Long walked to his home when he saw Officer Evans, Deputy Mills and other members of the Colbert County Task Force (including defendants Officer Darien Fountain, Deputy Bradley Skipworth, Deputy Daniel Cruise, Deputy Tim Vanderford, Deputy Tyler Evans, Deputy Jonathan Harkins, and Deputy Curtis Burns) follow him to his doorstep. The lawsuit claims they were led by Sheffield Police Officer Max Dotson.

Long told the officers they could leave since they didn’t have his permission or a warrant to enter. The lawsuit details that “without legal cause or just provocation” the defendants “brutally grabbed Mr. Long and prevented him from entering his home.” Long then collapsed while they “violently slammed,” “aggressively wrestled” and unlawfully frisked Long.

While Long was on the ground, Sargeant Nick Risner released his police K9 that “viciously attacked and mauled the plaintiff.” He can be heard yelling to the Police K9 “Bite him! Bite him! Get him! Good!” Then, Long was put in handcuffs and taken to jail before he had medical attention for the dog bite on his leg, knot on his head and back pains.

Civil rights attorneys Harry Daniels and Roderick Van Daniel are representing Long. “These officers weren’t satisfied with violating Mr. Long’s civil rights and siccing their police dog on him while he was unarmed, defenseless and crying for help,” Van Daniel said. “They made up circumstances so they could charge him with a crime. If we let criminal cops assault an innocent man and then charge him for the crime, none of us are safe.”

The lawsuit asserts that all of the officers involved with the attack need to be punished because their actions and lack of intervention were “conscience-shocking, reckless, deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s (Long) rights, negligent and objectively unreasonable.”

The suit claims the officers violated Long’s fourth amendment rights that protect him from unreasonable seizure and arrests without arguable reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

Long is experiencing physical injuries, impairments and disfigurement as well as emotional distress with PTSD-type symptoms. He’s still facing a resisting arrest charge, and an obstruction of governmental operations charge was dismissed in municipal court.

Long’s legal team is asking for punitive damages against each individually named defendant, special damages for costs like medical expenses and lost future earnings, which will be specifically determined by the court. They are also requesting the cost of the suit, reasonable attorney fees and a trial by the jury.

WAFF’s news partner, Times Daily, reached out to Sheffield Police Chief Ricky Terry and Mayor Steve Stanley who said they cannot comment on ongoing lawsuits.

Mayor Stanley referred them to Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation attorney Robbie Hyde who had no comment. Colbert County Sheriff Eric Balentine has not responded to calls for comment.

Several defendants have filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit, but it was for the initial lawsuit.

They are expected to refile with the amended complaint.

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