MPD officer, ATF agent sue city after Beale Street arrests

Robert Spence Interview
Published: Feb. 26, 2013 at 3:57 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 26, 2013 at 3:53 PM CST
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(WMC-TV) - A Memphis Police officer and an ATF agent are blaming and suing the City of Memphis for their arrests after they were busted during a sweep on Beale Street.

"It's shocking," attorney Robert Spence said. "It's that you have law enforcement officers who are willing to bring a lawsuit against the city or other law enforcement officials in order to remedy a wrong."

Spence filed a lawsuit against the City of Memphis and six Memphis police officers on behalf of Memphis police officer and former University of Memphis football player, LaKendus Cole and ATF agent Leon Edmond.

Spence said both men were off duty on Beale Street in August 2012 when they were caught up in a sweep by law enforcement. Spence said police do these on Saturdays and Sundays to clear the streets in the entertainment district.

According to the lawsuit, Lakendus Cole was standing on the sidewalk in front of Club 152 eating a slice of pizza. He was not drunk and had not been drinking.

Spence said officers told Cole, "Didn't we tell you to get off the street?"

"He was assaulted," Spence said. "He was badly beaten and thrown into the police car with such great force it dented it, injuring his arm permanently. The whole time he was screaming, 'I am a cop.'"

Cole was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and vandalism of a police car. Spence said the charges were later dropped.

ATF agent Leon Edmond, who did not know Cole, was attempting to walk into Club 152 when he was arrested. He was released to a supervisor with the ATF.

George Little, CAO for the City of Memphis, had no comment because he has not seen the lawsuit.  Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said the same thing.

"I'm not going to comment yet. I have not seen it," Armstrong said.

Robert Spence plans to make this a class action complaint. Cole and Edmond are asking for more than $2 million each.

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