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APD cruisers are parked at the department's headquarters. (FILE)

Ohio University student sues Athens, claiming officer used unreasonable force

An Ohio University student filed a civil rights lawsuit against Athens last Thursday, claiming an Athens Police Department officer that attempted to arrest him used “excessive, gratuitous and unreasonable force.”

The suit also alleges that the student, Jacob Francis’, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights were violated. These amendments include the protection of unreasonable search and seizures and equal protection under the law. 

“Defendant Doerr’s illegal and unconstitutional conduct was known, approved and ratified by agents/employees of the Defendant City of Athens,” according to the lawsuit. “Defendant Holter who then failed to report and conduct a meaningful and adequate investigation into Defendant Doerr’s illegal use of force.”

Francis, who has demanded a jury trial, encountered Officer Ethan Doerr April 27 after allegedly having a loud conversation with his friends. After getting upset, Francis threw his phone into the bushes, which he then retrieved. Doerr then approached Francis aggressively, according to the lawsuit.

Doerr then asked Francis what he was doing, and Francis said he was walking home. Doerr attempted to grab Francis’ arm “very suddenly and violently.” Francis attempted to quickly walk back to his dorm. Doerr then drew his stun gun and stunned Francis. Francis fell down three stairs and hit his head on a wall.

Francis was never told that he was under arrest.

He was unconscious for approximately 60 seconds and suffered lacerations to his face and hands. Other officers arrived, and the Athens City EMS was contacted. Francis was then taken to OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital where he had several head fractures. 

“Francis brings this civil rights action to secure fair compensation and to encourage Athens officers to refrain from the unnecessary, illegal, gratuitous, unreasonable, and excessive use of force against unarmed and non-threatening citizens in the future,” the case read.

The lawsuit was also filed against four other APD officers who were on duty at the time.


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