A man who was slammed to the ground by Kansas City, Missouri, police and suffered substantial damages to his face will receive a $500,000 settlement to resolve a lawsuit he filed against the police department.
Mack Nelson, 44, filed a lawsuit in February in Jackson County Circuit Court accusing five KCPD officers of assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
He was forcefully slammed to the ground outside of a gas station located near 55th Street and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City. The incident took place on Aug. 8, 2022, and was captured by a bystander who was sitting in his car when it occurred.
Nelson was reportedly held inside the gas station after KCPD officers shot and killed 31-year-old Zachary Garrard, who attempted to run over officers in a stolen car during a police chase. He was released but stayed around the shooting scene.
The Kansas City Star reports Nelson says he was upset that officers weren’t thoroughly questioning witnesses after the police shooting, so he began to record on Facebook Live and reportedly made comments the officers didn’t like.
The lawsuit states that Nelson was asked by officers to stay behind the yellow tape and he complied. He then walked to an area that was not marked off with police tape and was instructed to back away. He complied with the officers’ instructions again, but an officer attempted to arrest him, claiming he failed to follow orders.
The officer attempted to restrain Nelson but knocked his phone out of his hand and forcefully pushed his face into the ground. He briefly fell unconscious and suffered injuries to his face, eyes, and shoulders. He also had to receive stitches above his left eye.
John Picerno, Nelson’s attorney, said officers didn’t have their body cameras turned on during the encounter and falsified the police report.
“We’re satisfied that we accomplished what we could accomplish in the civil case,” Picerno said to the Kansas City Star. “What we’d like to see happen is that the officers get charged with crimes for the offenses that they’ve committed and/or that they get disciplined by the police department.”
Officer Alyssa Surges wrote in a report that Nelson fell to the ground after “jerking his arms away and attempting to twist his body away from P.O. Frazier.” The report also stated that he was asked several times to stand behind the crime scene tape but refused.
“It was a huge cover-up, we caught them with their pants down,” Picerno said to the Kansas City Star. “But for the bystander video, we wouldn’t have known that they fabricated this police report.”
Steve Young with the Kansas City Law Enforcement Accountability Project captured a video of the arrest and wants criminal charges brought against the police officers.
“Within two seconds of getting behind him, he just picks him up and body slams him,” Young said to KMBC. “I mean, it was really horrific what we saw. But, I’m glad that we were there to see it.”
Then he called out Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves to demand change.
“I want to put out a call out to Chief (Stacey) Graves: What are you going to do different, Chief Graves? Is there going to be some systemic change within KCPD or will you just go to the next (Board of Police Commissioners) BOPC meeting and ask for more money for settlements?” Young said to the Kansas City Star.
Young could be heard in the background of the video saying, “He wasn’t doing nothing to y’all.”
The Kansas City Police Department released a statement saying the investigation is still ongoing.
“We are not able to make a comment on any details of that case because there is an ongoing review of the incident by the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office at this time so it’s considered an ongoing investigation,” read the statement in part.
The settlement was approved by the Kansas City Board of Commissioners during a closed session on May 23. They also paid a $5 million settlement in November to the family of Terrence Bridges, who was fatally shot by officers in 2019.