Michael Brown shooting: Ferguson residents suing police for $40 million over 'excessive force'

Claimants say they were beaten and wrongly arrested amid unrest in St Louis

Police in Ferguson are being sued for $40 million (£24 million) by people claiming they were beaten, wrongly arrested and shot with rubber bullets in a show of “excessive force”  in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday is from five people caught up in unrest in St Louis after the unarmed 18-year-old, who was black, was killed by a white officer.

A social worker said she and her 17-year-old son were “roughed up” and arrested for not evacuating a McDonald's quickly enough.

Tracey White said they were waiting for her husband to pick them up from the restaurant in West Florissant Avenue McDonald's after attending a “peace and love” rally at a Ferguson church on 13 August when several officers armed with rifles told her she was being arrested because she would not “shut up.”

She and her son were detained for five hours at the county jail on charges of failing to disperse, she said, but were not provided with any paper documentation of the charge.

“It was so horrifying,” she added. “We did nothing wrong.”

A demonstrator, protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, stands his ground as police fire tear gas in Ferguson A demonstrator, protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown, stands his ground as police fire tear gas in Ferguson Another claimant, 23, said he was shot multiple times with rubber bullets and alleges that police directed racial slurs at him while walking through a protest area to his mother's home.

The fifth man claims he was wrongly arrested for filming the disturbances.

Malik Shabazz, a member of Black Lawyers for Justice, said the police were “completely out of control” in the period after Mr Brown’s death on 9 August.

“In those initial days, it was virtually a police riot,” he said.

The St Louis County force was criticised for its heavy-handed approach to protests, with the use of armoured police, rubber bullets, tear gas and curfews.

The lawsuit seeks $40 million (£24 million) in damages and names the Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, St Louis County Police Chief, Jon Belmar, officer Justin Cosma and several unidentified officers known collectively as John Doe, as well as the city and county governments.

Mr Shabazz said the suit could be broadened to include additional claimants.

The Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, called in America’s National Guard as demonstrations spilled over into clashes with police and looting.

President Barack Obama has since ordered a comprehensive review of policies that have “militarised” America’s police.

Additional reporting by AP

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