Assistant AG Sues Police Over Excessive Force During Arrest At 2020 Protest

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An assistant attorney general in Iowa has filed a lawsuit against the city of Des Moines and its police department for allegedly using unnecessary and excessive force while arresting him during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.

Assistant Attorney General Paxton Williams is suing the city, police chief, and multiple officers in Des Moines after cops allegedly tackled, pepper-sprayed, and handcuffed him for no reason on June 1, 2020, per the Des Moines Register.

According to the lawsuit filed in May, Williams was gearing up to protest near the Iowa Capitol in response to "questionable and unlawful police tactics," including the arrest of reporter Andrea Sahouri while she was covering a racial justice protest the night before.

The assistant AG said he was walking with a crowd toward the Capitol to participate in demonstrations that were "overwhelmingly peaceful" when police began attacking protestors "without warning."

Williams retreated from the scene as he witnessed cops "using tear-gas, rubber-bullets, pepper-spray, and tackling, arresting or otherwise detaining individuals who had simply been excising their Iowa and federal constitutional rights," the lawsuit states.

As Williams, alone and unthreatening, retired in front of his residence near the Iowa Capitol, riot officers violently confronted and arrested him, the suit adds.

The assistant attorney general says he was afraid for his life during the arrest and continues to feel anxiety about the incident that occurred at the doorstep of his home.

Williams' suit accuses the city of violating his constitutional civil rights through false arrest, excessive force, retaliation, and malicious prosecution. It is one of at least eight cases that have been filed against the Des Moines police for the tactics the department employed during protests sparked by George Floyd's death.

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