COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – A South Carolina man whose charges were dropped after camera footage of the police body showed he had not fought an officer who attacked him is suing the town of Rock Hill and US Representative Ralph Norman for libel.
Travis Price was a second shift worker at a chemical plant and has no criminal record, so the false material in the police press release issued after executives saw the body camera was particularly damaging to Price’s reputation. his lawyer wrote in his lawsuit.
In a Facebook post, Norman repeated these false police statements further slandering Price, according to the lawsuit.
“By issuing a press release to the media riddled with lies and falsehoods about what happened with Mr. Price on June 23, the Rock Hill Police Department has changed his life in devastating ways,” wrote the lawyer Justin Bamberg in a statement.
Price saw his brother get arrested by Rock Hill Police on June 23 and stopped to watch him. He was told he could take his brother’s jewelry after police found marijuana and a gun in the car, according to the lawsuit.
Rock Hill Police investigator Jonathan Moreno then arrived and body camera footage showed him attacking Travis Price without provocation. Moreno was fired, charged with assault and battery and apologized for attacking Price at the press conference where prosecutors released the video.
Prosecutor Kevin Brackett said at the same press conference that Price “had done nothing wrong” and authorities dropped all charges against him.
Price’s attorney said Rock Hill Police viewed the same body camera footage as Brackett before issuing the press release which included bogus claims that Price resisted police orders and attacked officers.
“The entire official town memorandum was drafted in such a way as to denigrate the character, image and reputation of the applicant; by deliberately using statements such as “successfully handcuffed Travis” so that the public believe that the applicant was combative and fighting officers, resisting or escaping arrest, and / or being unlawfully not in accordance with lawful orders from the forces of the ‘order,’ Bamberg wrote in the lawsuit.
On his Facebook page, Norman repeated elements of the city’s press release and the Republican did not change the post until shortly before the complaint was filed. The edited post still referred to Price as a “suspect,” according to the lawsuit.
A lawyer for the town of Rock Hill and a spokesperson for Norman both declined to speak to the media about the trial.
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