LOUISVILLE— Libertarian Congressional candidate Russell Brooksbank filed federal civil rights charges Tuesday against the police officer who arrested him last month.
Brooksbank, a Clarksville resident, is alleging First, Fourth and Fourteenth Constitutional amendment rights were violated during an incident involving Kentucky State Police Sgt. Dewayne Koch.
The lawsuit points to Koch's past misconduct, including two pending internal investigations and a "questionable" shooting of a black suspect.
Brooksbank is running for the 9th District seat.
Koch arrested Brooksbank in Louisville on Sept. 16 on a felony assault of an officer charge and two others — all three which were dropped by Jefferson County judges because of a lack of substantiated proof.
“We live in a free country, where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and where the Constitution and the rule of law are supposed to govern, as they ultimately did in this matter," Brooksbank stated in a news release. "We do not live in a police state. Mr. Koch needs to be held accountable."
The police officer and Brooksbank first encountered one another when Brooksbank noticed his coworker was stopped in her mix concrete vehicle by the officer at a Thorntons in Louisville. Koch believed that the Advance Ready Mix employee was not wearing her seatbelt, but the lawsuit alleges she had removed it temporarily while parked.
Koch allegedly wrote Brooksbank's coworker a citation. However, after hearing the concrete truck had video and could prove in court no seatbelt violation was made, Koch said he wrote the ticket as a safety violation and "there is no going to court."
Brooksbank, in response, called the officer an obscenity.
"Koch became infuriated by this statement, and immediately began to retaliate," the lawsuit states. "In fact, the entire chain of events that follows constitutes an impermissible and unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment and retaliation for First Amendment speech ..."
The officer told Brooksbank to leave.
"He turned and squared up on me," Koch said in his Oct. 10 court testimony. "I asked him to leave the traffic stop once more or he was going to go to jail."
In his testimony, Koch said he drove down National Turnpike but turned back around about 8 or 12 minutes later while patrolling the area.
That's when he approached Brooksbank the second time.
Koch claims Brooksbank gave him the middle finger as he was preparing to turn right on the National Turnpike, thus improperly signaling a turn. However, Koch testified that he could not see from his position whether or not Brooksbank had his blinker on, answering in testimony "it's very possible."
Brooksbank alleges he indeed used his turn signal. He claims his left hand was slightly hanging from the window with his pinky and ring finger "curled slightly to prevent his wedding ring from falling off."
The officer pulled Brooksbank over for an improper signal. Brooksbank claims this is a Fourth Amendment violation protecting against unsubstantiated search and seizure.
The court citation states that the officer asked Brooksbank for his personal information four times, but Brooksbank was trying to record the exchange on his phone.
Koch reached in the car to take Brooksbank's phone without warning. His back was about a foot from oncoming traffic and he was trying to hasten the traffic stop for safety reasons, the officer told a judge.
Brooksbank alleges his Fourth Amendment rights were again violated with the officer tried to take his phone.
According to the court citation, Brooksbank then grabbed the officer's arm and pulled him into his vehicle. Koch then pulled back, ripping Brooksbank's shirt in the process.
Furthermore, Brooksbank claims that the officer slammed his phone on the top of his car in an attempt to break it and destroy any video evidence. No video was successfully recorded, and Koch did not have a body camera or dashboard camera.
Brooksbank was charged with felony third degree assault of an officer, misdemeanor obstruction/interference with an officer and an improper signal violation.
The lawsuit claims Koch falsified several facts in the police report — Brooksbank claims that he never grabbed the officer's arm and tried to pull him in the car.
He alleges in his lawsuit violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, which contains the due process clause prohibiting government officials from depriving people of life, liberty or property without legislative authorization.
Brooksbank is represented by Kentucky attorneys Chris Wiest, Robert Winter Jr. and Tom Bruns.
“We intend to see Sergeant Koch held accountable for his misconduct to the fullest extent of the law," his attorneys stated in a news release. "He will face a jury of citizens who, presumably, will be as outraged as we are — police officers have a tough job to do and the vast majority go to work every day and do their job with the highest integrity; their job is made all the harder by the handful of bad officers like Sergeant Koch.”
Brooksbank is also asking for $75,000 for pain and suffering. He said he suffered neck and shoulder pain after the officer grabbed him. He also inhaled pepper spray during his 14-hour stint in jail when during a corrections officer raid on another inmate.
Lt. Michael Webb, commander of the Kentucky State Police public affairs office, said early Tuesday afternoon that he was unaware of a lawsuit.
"If there is a suit, we have to get that suit and review it on a case-by-case basis," he said. Not all lawsuits trigger internal investigations, he said.