An Oklahoma woman caught on bodycam video violently arrested after she was involved in a single-vehicle accident is now suing the deputies who dragged her while handcuffed, claiming they used excessive force.
“Instead of being treated like a human being, a person, I was treated like a suspect,” said Tyler McClain who is suing the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office and the Greenwood Police Department in Arkansas for police brutality.
On May 14, 2020, Tyler McClain was involved in a car accident around 2 a.m. when she hydroplaned her car on Highway 10 in a rural part of Arkansas near Greenwood. She ended up crashing into a fence then into a nearby field.
An ambulance happened to drive by the scene of the crash and helped McClain who by her own admission was disoriented from the crash. The EMS crew notified deputies and that is when things took a turn for the worse.
“When the police showed up, I was confused, shocked, disoriented,” Tyler McClain said.
The lawsuit alleges, a disoriented McClain was escorted back to her vehicle by deputies to retrieve her belongings. She began pulling at her bumper and popped the hood to attempt to fix her car, believing she could still drive herself home.
As McClain sat in the driver’s seat to continue gathering her belongings and stuff the deployed airbag back into the steering wheel compartment, deputies tried to get McClain’s attention, to no response.
McClain’s attorneys say at this point deputies started to become agitated as a disoriented McClain was unresponsive to their commands for her to exit the car.
Eventually, deputies forcibly pulled McClain from her car causing her to fall to the ground. Once McClain was on the ground after being pulled from her vehicle, deputies can be seen on bodycam video handcuffing her. McClain says she was not under the influence of any substance when the accident happened.
“All I could do was look around and there was so many people attacking me and I was confused,” Tyler McClain said of how the deputies addressed the increasingly tense situation.
Bodycam video shows several deputies handcuffing McClain to arrest her and get her into a squad car.
“[I was] screaming and crying out for help, begging them to stop putting me into more harm,” Tyler McClain said.
“There was a phone call about a car wreck, and they respond this way to my child, yanked her out the car, threw her to the ground, handcuffed her, shackling her feet,” Tyler McClain’s mother, Talisha McClain, said of the incident.
Tyler McClain was charged with two counts of battery, obstruction, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but those charges were later dropped.
Talisha McClain rushed to the Arkansas Department of Corrections, where Tyler McClain was taken by deputies, once she learned of what happened. Talisha McClain says while leaving the jail, she requested the bodycam video of the arrest.
“Something is wrong if you think that is OK the way they treated my daughter on that video,” Talisha McClain said.
Since the arrest, Talisha McClain says her daughter has been dealing with the aftermath of what happened to her. “She goes to the doctor, chiropractor, she goes to the psychiatrist, goes to speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy,” Talisha McClain said. McClain’s attorney, DeWitt Lacy, say back and brain injuries sustained from the car crash were exacerbated by deputies amid the violent arrest.
On June 21, 2022, McClain, eager to seek some accountability, filed a federal lawsuit against the officers involved with her arrest for excessive force and wrongful arrest.
“It’s a federal civil rights lawsuit where we’re alleging excessive force was used against her and she was falsely arrested, flashed or detained, and criminal charges filed against her should not have been filed,” said John Burris, one of McClain’s attorneys.
McClain is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in her federal lawsuit; she also wants the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office and the Greenwood Police Department to improve their training practices, so a car accident does not result in a violent arrest like she experienced.
“Rather than the other officers who could have stepped in and stopped this at any time, but did not, it speaks to a culture that allows this kind of treatment,” said DeWitt Lacy, one of McClain’s attorneys.
Atlanta Black Star sought comment from the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office for comment on the allegations lodged against them in the lawsuit, but our calls were not returned by the time of this report. The Greenwood Police Department said it had “no comment” regarding the allegations in the lawsuit.
Talisha McClain says she plans to continue helping her daughter through therapy so she can return to her normal self.
“I want her to bounce back from this, it’s not right and they keep doing this to us, it’s not right,” Talisha McClain said.