Atlanta, GA — An Atlanta, Georgia man has sued an off-duty officer who beat him viciously over the incorrect assumption he was stealing a tomato from Walmart.
Though he says he was innocent, he was ultimately jailed for three days before the charges against him were dropped. He sustained permanent injuries from the beating.
Tyrone Carnegay was leaving Walmart in October of 2014 when an off-duty police officer working as a security guard approached. Video footage of the incident shows Carnegay attempting to exit the store when Atlanta police officer Trevor King begins questioning him. After no more than a few seconds, King begins beating Carnegay with his baton.
Carnegay says he was never told why he was being questioned, though according to court documents, a manager on duty at the timetold the officer he had stolen the tomato.
“He’s giving me a verbal command. As he’s grabbing me, he’s beating me at the same time. ‘Get on the ground.’ Beating me at the same time,” Carnegay said as he re-watched surveillance video with WSB-Atlanta’s Craig Laurie. “My leg started giving out.”
King hit Carnegay at least seven times, ultimately cracking two bones in his leg and rupturing an artery. He now has a titanium rod in his leg and walks with a limp. Carnegay says he was never asked for the receipt — which he says he had. According to Carnegay, after he was on the ground in handcuffs, the officer reached into his pocket and found the receipt — along with his change from paying for the tomato.
Carnegay’s attorney, Craig Jones, said the entire incident could have been avoided with one question. “Somebody could have come up to him and said, ‘Excuse me sir, do you have [a] receipt for that tomato?’ and he would’ve shown him the receipt.”
Instead, Jones says, “The officer went into Robocop mode and beat the crap out of him.” Carnegay claims the cop “found the receipt and stood there like he hadn’t done nothing.”
In spite of this, Carnegay was still sent to jail and charged with simple battery against police, as well as willful obstruction of law enforcement officers.
He was first taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was chained to his bed, and then transferred to Fulton County Jail.
He was released after three days and the charges were dropped, but between the false accusations, brutal attack, and subsequent incarceration, Carnegay does not feel justice was served.
According to his lawsuit, filed April 6 against Walmart, the manager on duty, and King, he is seeking damages for “pain and suffering, damage to his reputation and legal fees he incurred defending himself,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The lawsuit could take three years to complete, according to WSB-Atlanta.
Walmart offered a tepid statement on the incident and subsequent lawsuit. “We take the matter seriously. We will review the allegations and respond appropriately with the court,” a representative told WSB-Atlanta.
Atlanta police declined to comment — but the audacity their off-duty officer displayed by brutally attacking a man for not stealing a tomato speaks volumes.
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