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Excessive Force Lawsuit Filed Against Ga. Officers

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- A lawsuit has been filed in federal court against five Warner Robins police officers, their supervisor and the city of Warner Robins by a Fayetteville man who claims officers "used excessive force" and "viciously and unjustifiably beat" him during his arrest.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Macon on April 15 by an Atlanta attorney representing 25-year-old Kyle Colbert Sims. Sims is currently serving a five-year sentence at the Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo for obstruction of an officer in the April 14, 2010 incident at Famous Liquors at 545 N. Davis Drive.

The lawsuit named Warner Robins police Officers Brandon Smith, Timothy Gray, Nicholas Taylor, Billy Styles, Bradley Triplett, their supervisor Lt. Donald Edwards and the city.

According to the lawsuit, Sims was cooperating with his arrest when he was assaulted by the officers after an "encounter" with Warner Robins police Sgt. Matt Moulton.

The Warner Robins police incident report stated that the officers were responding to Moulton's call for help. Moulton suffered a neck injury in the struggle with Sims, according to both the incident report and the May 18, 2010 indictment against Sims.

According to the incident report, Moulton responded to a call from one of the store's clerks about Sims attempting to cash a fraudulent check for $304.74.

"Moulton stated that he attempted to stop (Sims) at the door inside the store," the incident report stated. "He stated that (Sims) continued to try to pass him then began to fight ... Moulton then called for 'Help' on the radio."

The report does not include any reference to Sims scuffling with any other officers except Moulton. The report states simply that "numerous officers then responded to Sgt. Moulton's call for help" and that "Sims was taken into custody at the scene."

Moulton was taken by ambulance to Houston Medical Center, according to the report. Sims "had a complaint of injury" and Smith photographed Sims' injury. the report stated.

"Sims' injury did not require any treatment at the hospital," the report stated.

Sims pleaded guilty Feb. 25 to felony obstruction of an officer for fighting with Moulton and striking him, according to Houston County Superior Court records. Sims also pleaded guilty to forgery in relation to the check.

Superior Court Judge George F. Nunn sentenced Sims to five years on the felony obstruction and 10 years probation on the forgery with credit for time served, according to court records.

As part of the negotiated plea between his attorney and the district attorney's office, charges of aggravated battery on a police officer and of battery in relation to Moulton were dismissed, as well as a count of forgery in relation to driver's license with a fictitious name, court records show.

According to the lawsuit, Moulton "approached" Sims and "during this encounter, other officers ... were called to effectuate" Sims' arrest. The other officers are the ones named in the lawsuit.

"During the course of this encounter, (Sims) indicated that he would cooperate with the arrest. (Sims) further placed his hands in the air to indicate he was not resisting arrest," the lawsuit stated.

In spite of Sims' cooperation with the arrest, Smith, Gray, Taylor, Styles, Triplett and Edwards "proceeded to physically assault" Sims that included "these officers picking (Sims) up and throwing him across the store after (Sims) raised his hands in the air and verbally indicating he would cooperate," the lawsuit alleged.

After Sims was in handcuffs, the lawsuit alleged that "Edwards instructed the other officers to throw him on the ground."

"The officers then proceeded to spin (Sims) around and slam him hard, face-first, onto the concrete surface," the lawsuit stated. "For an excessive period of time, the officers then pinned (Sims') head on the ground by pushing their knees into (his) back."

The lawsuit also alleged that the officers "improperly and illegally kicked and punched" Sims while he was handcuffed.

As a result of the actions of the six officers named in the lawsuit, Sims "suffered significant physical injuries," according to the lawsuit.

"Throughout the entire encounter with these officers, (Sims) did not attempt to fight back and repeatedly attempted to communicate with the officers his attempts to cooperate," the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, monetary damages, attorney's fees and litigation expenses.

City Attorney Jim Elliott said he had not yet received notice of the lawsuit and declined comment having not had an opportunity to review it. Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police, said in a text message that police

Chief Brett Evans had not seen the lawsuit and was declining comment. Scott R. King, the Atlanta attorney representing Sims, could not be reached for comment on Thursday, or by late Friday afternoon.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.