Lawsuit claims Fayetteville Police used excessive force during 2019 arrest

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A lawsuit filed in Cumberland County on Thursday alleges the Fayetteville Police Department used excessive force during an arrest that left a man unconscious.

Body camera footage from the incident shows 63-year-old Robert Edwards immediately becoming unresponsive when an officer brings him to the ground.

On March 4, 2019, Edwards called the police after his granddaughter's boyfriend threatened them with a gun, according to the complaint filed Thursday.

Footage shows Edwards, his granddaughter and her boyfriend arguing while trying to explain the situation to the officer.

Edwards screamed at the boyfriend, "You told me you had a gun in the car."

The pair continued to argue and circle around one another. Next, an officer prevents the boyfriend from hitting Edwards by grabbing his arm. The officer then immediately brings Edwards to the ground with his hands behind his back.

"The Plaintiff was immediately knocked out cold, and blood started coming from his head. He was ultimately diagnosed with a concussion, shoulder injury, a brain bleed and a brain contusion," the lawsuit stated.

Edwards appears unresponsive while an officer handcuffs him.

Moments later, the body camera footage shows his granddaughter screaming "Black Lives Matter" and "This is what the white cops do to you! This is why you don't call the police!"

Officers eventually uncuff Edwards and roll him on his back as he continues to appear unresponsive.

"You with me?" an officer is heard saying while checking Edwards' pulse. "You Ok? Can you talk to me, sir?"

Edwards regains consciousness and officers continue to check on him and call an ambulance.

After Edwards regained his faculties and was able to stand, the officer explained the situation to Edwards.

"You came out here trying to fight him, and I told you to stop, and you didn't stop," the officer said.

"Not me," Edwards responded.

"You did, which I get it. It was emotional. I get it, you were just protecting your granddaughter but you can't do that. When I tell you to stop, you got to stop," the officer told Edwards.

Edwards paid $33,000 in medical bills following the incident, according to court documents.

Edwards was charged with resisting a public officer and booked into jail following his trip to the hospital. The charge was eventually dismissed in September 2019, according to court documents.

Edwards is suing the city and officer Patrick Guilette for battery, excessive force, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and violation of his civil rights.

Officials for the city and police department said both Fayetteville City Council members and a use-of-force expert reviewed the body camera footage.

"In anticipation of potential litigation, a use-of-force expert also reviewed the footage and determined that the actions of Officer Guilette were appropriate and reasonable under the circumstances and that Officer Guilette used the least amount of effective force to control the situation. The City intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit," city officials said in a statement.
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