FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9, 2013
CONTACT: Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas, 501-374-2660
LITTLE ROCK – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas added Matthew Robinson to a federal lawsuit filed by his mother, Sunday School teacher and dietician Eva Robinson, against the Dover, Arkansas Marshall’s Office and several other entities for a violation of their rights to be free from unlawful search, seizure, undo force and prosecution. “What started as an unnecessary police stop--for suspicions that could have been easily diffused--turned into a train of police misconduct that could not be stopped,” said ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director Rita Sklar. “We entrust our police officers with great power—the power to detain, arrest, and use deadly force if necessary: we have the right to expect the utmost professionalism and good judgment from them in return.”
On the evening of September 13, 2011 Eva and Matthew Robinson were walking their dog near their home in Dover, Arkansas. Dover Deputy Marshall Steven Payton drove by, and Matthew waved, thinking he knew Payton. Saying later that Matthew’s behavior was suspicious, Payton pulled the car over, turned on the blue lights, confronted Matthew and shouted questions at him about drugs. The backup team called to the scene, including Sgt. Kristopher Stevens of the Pope County Sheriff’s Department and Cpl. Stewart Condley of the Arkansas State Police, tasered Matthew, mistaking his difficulty in exiting the police car after questioning for aggression. After attempting to defend her son, Eva was tasered as well. Matthew was thrown to the ground, beaten, choked and hit in the groin and Eva was slammed repeatedly against the car while she was being handcuffed, as she tried to get to her son. The Constitution protects innocent citizens in America from being detained and identified by police without a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
The suit to which Matthew Robinson is being added today was filed in 2012 by the ACLU of Arkansas and Little Rock Attorney Pat James and is scheduled to go to trial in April 2014. The suit aims to hold the officers accountable for their abuse of force and to prevent further injustices to other Arkansas families. The ACLU of Arkansas is advocating for all law enforcement staff to undergo training on proper stop, search and use of force as a means to ensuring lawful and fair policing in Arkansas.