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Black man Tasered by White Fairfax County police officer files federal lawsuit

Fairfax County Officer Tyler Timberlake was arrested June 6, a day after using a stun gun on a victim multiple times and sticking his knees on the man’s neck. (Video: Fairfax County Police Department)

A Black man who was Tasered and punched by a White Fairfax County police officer without apparent provocation in 2020 filed a federal lawsuit Monday claiming his civil rights were violated, he was subject to excessive force and he was falsely arrested.

Body-worn camera video released by Fairfax County police shows La Monta Gladney pacing in circles on a Mount Vernon street and mumbling incoherently before Officer Tyler Timberlake arrives on the scene and deploys his Taser on him within seconds.

Timberlake was charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and battery the day after the incident, and then-Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. called the use of force “horrible” at a news conference.

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Gladney, 37, said in an interview Monday that the main thing he wanted to accomplish with the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria was to stop unwarranted police stops in his community and be able to walk around his neighborhood without fear of law enforcement.

“I had run-ins with the bike unit,” Gladney said, referring to a group of officers who patrol the Route 1 corridor in Mount Vernon on bicycles. “They always harassed me. They harassed me a lot.”

Attorneys for Timberlake declined to comment on the lawsuit but have said previously that Timberlake is not guilty of any wrongdoing and that his actions were justified. They also said he mistook Gladney for another man who had outstanding arrest warrants and prior convictions.

Gladney said he was at a friend’s house on the afternoon of June 5 when the woman had a medical emergency. Gladney said he feared she might die and his cellphone had run out of power, so he ran outside to seek help.

Gladney was so distressed that he was “unable to comprehend and communicate” as he paced in circles on Fordson Road, according to his lawsuit. Fairfax County prosecutors wrote in filings in the criminal case that he also later tested positive for PCP at a hospital.

Thomas Hennessy, an attorney for Gladney, said that his client’s intoxication is irrelevant to the civil case and that Timberlake couldn’t have known Gladney had ingested a drug when the officer decided to deploy his Taser.

The body-worn camera video shows Gladney shouting about oxygen as a paramedic with the Fairfax County Fire Department and the initial Fairfax County police officer who arrived on the scene attempt unsuccessfully to coax him into an ambulance to get him medical help.

After Timberlake arrives in a patrol car, the video shows him walk toward Gladney, and he appears to say, “Get on the ground, Anthony!” Shortly after, Timberlake fires his Taser at Gladney, who cries and falls to the ground.

Timberlake places his knees on Gladney’s back and neck and then punches him with the Taser, video shows. Timberlake is later seen deploying the Taser directly on the back of Gladney’s neck. Gladney also yells, “I can’t breathe!” as Timberlake and the other officer try to handcuff him.

Gladney was charged with being drunk in public and resisting arrest, but Fairfax County prosecutors quickly dropped those charges.

Gladney said he suffered a broken collarbone in the incident, and photos show abrasions on his shoulder and wrists, as well as four prod marks in the back of his neck that Gladney said were from the Taser. He also said he suffers continuing emotional trauma and is seeking unspecified monetary damages as part of the lawsuit.

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Timberlake is scheduled to stand trial in the criminal case on Sept. 9, 2022. His attorneys recently filed a motion to have the charges dismissed, claiming Fairfax County prosecutors did not provide adequate discovery in the case, including a lack of police reports.

The office of the Fairfax County commonwealth’s attorney wrote in its response that it had provided substantial discovery and that there were not more police reports in the case because officers had refused to speak to the detective investigating the incident. A judge denied the defense’s motion to dismiss but ordered prosecutors to turn over additional documents.

Timberlake has also filed a motion saying he intends to sue Roessler, Fairfax County prosecutors and the chair of the Board of Supervisors for defamation for statements they made after his arrest.

Gladney’s lawsuit was filed the same day the trial began for a Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd. Gladney’s case drew comparisons to that one because both victims yelled, “I can’t breathe!”

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