LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the city of Long Beach, several of its police officers and 7-Eleven on behalf of a Black man who was allegedly beaten without provocation.
According to lawyers for 24-year-old Eugene Martindale III, the incident began when their client — who does not drive and does not own a cell phone — was suffering from anxiety the afternoon of Feb. 15. Martindale then approached a vehicle in front of a 7-Eleven at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Street to ask the occupants if they could call his father to come help him.
But police allege that Martindale was attempting to steal a vehicle and resisted their commands.
Martindale’s attorneys said the man was doing neither and the beating, captured on cell phone video by a bystander, was racially motivated and carried out by members of a “secret group” of racist Long Beach police officers.
“What Mr. Martindale needed was help, not beatings,” attorney Rodney Diggs said. “He needed compassion, not beatings.”
Police said the video clip did not show the entire incident.
A representative of the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office said the office had not yet received the complaint and 7-Eleven, which was named in the suit because of the involvement of a security guard, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Martindale was arrested on suspicion of attempted carjacking. He pleaded no contest to resisting an officer in March and was sentenced to one year in jail, three years of formal probation and was ordered to enroll in a mental health program.
The suit is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, physical pain and loss of income.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)