Civil rights lawsuit filed over First Friday arrest

A civil rights lawsuit accuses the city of Augusta and law enforcement of targeting young black men for arrest on a First Friday in 2010.

The lawsuit further alleges that David Frederick was wrongfully arrested for violating the city’s curfew ordinance for juveniles, and that he was struck and kicked while in handcuffs.

Richmond County sher­iff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said Thursday that the events described occurred under a different administration and that he couldn’t address the allegations until the department reviews the case.

The U.S. District Court lawsuit, filed Sept. 22, names as defendants the city; the current and former sheriffs; and officers Demond Brown, Ra­chel Hardin, Phillip Ham­brick, Jason Saal and James Swint.

Frederick’s lawsuit contends that after trouble by young people at the May 2010 First Friday, Sheriff Ronnie Strength instructed officers to aggressively enforce the curfew ordinance for minors at the First Friday the next month. Strength knew or should have known such a directive would lead to civil rights violations, the lawsuit alleges.

Frederick, then 16, was in Augusta with his mother to attend the graduation of a family member and got permission to go to First Friday with Brad Tucker, an adult, the lawsuit states.

Frederick was walking with Tucker and another adult near Broad and 10th streets when they were stopped by Brown and other officers who asked their ages, the lawsuit says. Fred­erick contends he was cuffed and turned over to Har­den to take to a holding area.

Frederick alleges that Harden called out to other officers as they approached the holding area and that several officers forced him to the ground and hit and kicked him.

The lawsuit also challenges the constitutionality of the curfew ordinance.

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