St. Louis couple sues city and police officers over arrest in wake of Stockley protests

By Sam Knef | Sep 22, 2018

ST. LOUIS — A couple claims that they were pepper-sprayed, assaulted and detained by police while walking in their neighborhood during protests over an officer acquitted in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. 

They filed a lawsuit on Sept. 17, in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri-Eastern Division, against the city of St. Louis and several offices from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Alex Nelson, an Air Force captain, and his wife, Iris Nelson, allege they were taking a walk on Sept. 17, 2017, in their St. Louis neighborhood, after Officer Jason Stockley's acquittal, when police allegedly pepper-sprayed Iris Nelson and dragged Alex Nelson across the street.

The couple alleged that they had been walking in their neighborhood at 11:30 p.m., after hearing a noise outside and to check for possible damage from protests near Washington Avenue and Tucker Boulevard.

The two claim that they had not been involved in protests that had erupted in multiple locations in St. Louis and surrounding communities after Stockley's acquittal was announced.

Alex Nelson claims that police dragged him across the street, the complaint states. His hands were "violently" zip tied and once detained he was the last to have his restraints removed, according to the complaint.

"His hands were restrained for approximately three to four hours," the suit says. "Still to this date, nearly a year later, he does not have full feeling in his right hand."

Alex Nelson also states that he was denied opportunity to call his chain of command at Scott Air Force Base to say that he would not be at work on Sept. 18, 2017.

Alex Nelson claims that he was detained until 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2017, and Iris Nelson was detained until 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2017.

The protests were prompted by what "many in the St. Louis community," believed "was yet another example of white St. Louis-area police officers killing African-American citizens with impunity," the suit states.

The Nelsons are represented by attorneys at Khazaeli Wyrsch LLC of St. Louis.

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