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ACLU Sues Former Kansas City Police Officer For Excessive Use Of Force

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
A dash cam video from 2013 shows Joshua Bills standing still with empty hands extended outward as five Kansas City police officers approach. The ACLU is suing one officer for excessive force against Bills.

The ACLU of Missouri sued former Kansas City police officer Jordan Nelson Thursday for excessive use of force against Joshua Bills in 2013. 

On December 6, 2013, officers were dispatched to Kansas City's Key Coalition neighborhood on reports of a "suspicious person." Bills was walking in that area when two KCPD cars approached with their lights on.

A dash cam video shows Bills immediately stopped walking and extended his empty hands outward. As five officers approached him, he turned around slowly and stood still. Within seconds, Nelson pulled him by his hand and kicked his legs out from under him, causing Bills' face to slam into the concrete.

ACLU Legal Director Tony Rothert told KCUR this "takedown" caused physical injuries to Bills' face, including a busted lip and loose teeth, and a momentary loss of consciousness.

"As you can see from the dash cam, Mr. Bills was posing no threat whatsoever to any officer," Rothert said.

The lawsuit points out Nelson did not attempt to instruct or arrest Bills before forcing him to the ground, and that Bills was "standing still and silent," making this "objectively unreasonable force."

"It starts off wrong. Five officers surrounding a man simply walking down a sidewalk. There was no reason to arrest him at that point," Rothert said. "Throwing him to the ground was completely uncalled for and unnecessary, even if there had been a basis for arresting him."

Rothert said they're suing Nelson, as an individual, and not the department as a whole because Nelson appeared to be "out-of-control" officer acting outside of the KCPD's policies.

Nelson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages and a jury trial.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @_tudhope

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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