Tased, beaten, and terrorized: the Robinson family of Dover, Arkansas was not suspected of any crime when they were stopped by police near their home where they were walking their miniature schnauzer, in 2011. The catalyst for the stop was innocent: Matthew looked and waved at Dover Deputy Marshall Steven Payton as he drove by. Payton admitted this behavior is legal, yet said he found it suspicious. That led to Matthew being beaten, tased multiple times, kicked, searched, and arrested while his mother was also beaten, handcuffed, choked, and arrested. Her glasses were broken as her face was repeatedly slammed into the hood of a patrol car. Vital data from a Taser was erased and audio and video recordings from two of three officer patrol cars were mysteriously absent.

The ACLU of Arkansas filed suit in 2013 on behalf of the Robinsons for the stop, excessive force and arrests of the Robinsons, and were able to successfully resolve some of their claims. Arkansas has no professional standards board for police that the public can turn to for help when professional standards are violated by law enforcement, even though unchecked violations of the duty to serve and protect threaten police credibility and safety as well as public safety.

View more details here.

Status: Some of the Robinsons’ issues were resolved, but officers involved in the incident remain on the job and un-sanctioned and no independent agency exists to investigate complaints against law enforcement.

Date filed

April 21, 2013


U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas





Case number

4:12CV00577 BSM