ROCK HILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Travis Price, the man whose charges were dropped following a controversial arrest that sparked outrage in Rock Hill, is suing the city and U.S. Congressman Ralph Norman, according to a complaint filed Monday.
The lawsuit alleges the city of Rock Hill was “grossly negligent” and “reckless” when police arrested Price last month.
The incident that sparked the controversy began on June 23 when officers said they stopped Ricky Price for making an illegal turn and changing lanes unlawfully.
Ricky Price pulled over at a gas station on Willowbrook Avenue. Police said Price was on the phone with his brother Travis telling him he had been stopped. The lawsuit alleges Travis had not spoken to Ricky on the phone.
Rock Hill Police said officers called for a K-9 to sniff Price’s car because of his prior history. Officers found two bags of marijuana in the driver’s side door panel and a handgun in his car.
As Ricky was being arrested, police said Travis Price showed up at the scene and approached officers.
In a video posted to Facebook, officers are seen pushing Travis Price in the green shirt back. This is after they said Travis shoved officers and would not put his hands behind his back when they told him he was under arrest for interfering.
Off to the side, police said they tried to help Ricky, wearing a blue shirt, remove his jewelry, but in the process, they claim he tried to escape and hit the officer several times.
Once the fight hits the ground, one officer starts hitting Ricky repeatedly.
LINK TO FULL ORIGINAL VIDEO ON FB. Please be aware that there is profanity and the content of this video might be disturbing.
In a surveillance video released on June 28, Travis Price can be seen approaching the scene of Ricky’s arrest. He appears to grab some of the jewelry from his brother before he is eventually pushed back by police.
Officers push Travis back into a fuel tank before the altercation turns physical.
Rock Hill Police released a full statement after the incident that said Travis Price “shoved officers” and was non-compliant.
“The entire officially-written City Memorandum was written in a way so as to disparage the character, image, and reputation of Plaintiff; purposefully using statements like “managed to handcuff Travis” so the public would believe Plaintiff was combative and fighting officers, resisting or evading arrest, and/or otherwise being unlawfully non-compliant with law enforcement lawful orders.”
Weeks later, charges against Travis were dropped and a Rock Hill Police officer was fired from his position as the City of Rock Hill apologized to him.
“I was robbed of my dignity something that I’ll never get back,” Travis Price said during a news conference held by his attorney and other community leaders.
Officer Jonathan Moreno was charged with third-degree assault and battery for his alleged involvement in escalating the situation.
“It has been found that investigator Moreno’s interaction with Travis Price violated the standards set forth in our policies by not attempting to deescalate the situation. In fact, he escalated the situation. Based on the totality of investigators Moreno’s actions, his employment has been terminated,” Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts said.
U.S. Congressman Ralph Norman was also named in the lawsuit for a social media post from June 24 in support of the officers’ actions.
“I’m so fed up with those who demonize our law enforcement officers,” Norman’s post said. “Just look at what happened yesterday in Rock Hill. Our officers were doing the absolute BEST THEY COULD to get these suspects apprehended and keep the situation from escalating any further.”
Norman posted that Travis Price arrived and “starts interfering with things, trying to get the evidence out of the car.”
The congressman updated his social media on July 15 where he reaffirmed his support of law enforcement.
“It is maddening to me to see a lack of appreciation and support for our men and women in law enforcement, which unfortunately permeates too many parts of our society,” Norman said. “This has to stop. It is right to demand transparency and accountability from our law enforcement agencies – nobody disagrees with that. Nor should anyone disagree that when law enforcement officers are held to account, it should be based on fair, appropriate standards that are blind to external pressures and to the public spotlight.”
The lawsuit said Norman did not retract his prior defamatory statements from his previous statement.