An Oklahoma City activist with a history of protest organizing even before the May 30 George Floyd protests in OKC filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.
The action is brought by Jess Eddy and stems from his arrest August 12, 2020, in the public meeting room at the Oklahoma County Courthouse Annex during a Board of County Commissioners meeting.
Prater, Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, the Board of County Commissioners for Oklahoma County, and two Sheriff’s deputies, Jim Anderson and David Brown as defendants.
Eddy had been arrested on an earlier date and charged by Prater for protests on May 30 and following resulting in his reporting to the Oklahoma County Jail July 29 along with activist Mark Faulk.
In the suit Eddy argues that Prater had him arrested on August 12 because of animosity over previous statements critical of Prater and arrests for protesting.
Civil rights violations
Eddy claims in the suit that his civil rights were violated by the arrest and thus appropriate for federal court.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Eddy claims that his First Amendment rights were violated by the arrest during the meeting saying that Prater had no probable cause to have him arrested because he “did not commit a criminal act.”
The case states, “Plaintiff [Eddy] was removed from a public meeting in retaliation for his protected speech, political associations and out of Defendant Prater’s animus for him, causing him emotional and physical pain and suffering and deprivation of his First Amendment right to be present and make public speech in a public forum.”
Eddy also claims that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by his arrest.
The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
In the lawsuit, Eddy claims that by the arrest in the meeting he was “unlawfully, unjustifiably, and unreasonably seized” by the Sheriff’s deputies and that neither Sheriff Johnson nor the Board of County Commissioners intervened to stop the action.
Another Fourth Amendment violation claimed in the suit is of “false arrest/imprisonment” due to the arrest.
Eddy claims in his suit that he was the victim of “inadequate supervision and training.”
The suit states, “But for the inadequate supervision by Defendants Sheriff and Board of Deputies Anderson and Brown, Plaintiff would not have suffered deprivation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights.”
Eddy also claims three other violations under both Oklahoma law and U.S. law:
- Abuse of process
- Malicious prosecution
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
He is asking the court for “actual, emotional and physical damages” in excess of $75,000 sustained in the action and for additional punitive damages.
Prater was not immediately available for comment when we called his office near the time of publication. If he has a comment after publication, we will update this report.
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