An Ohio State University student has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Columbus police, accusing them of beating him over what later amounted to a littering conviction, according to court records made public today.
In a lawsuit filed Friday, Joseph Hines, 21, accuses officers of a “brutal, unjustified physical attack” on Aug. 29, 2012, that left him unconscious, led to a three-day hospitalization and caused permanent scarring. He’s seeking a minimum of $75,000.
Hines, of Jackson, Mich., later pleaded guilty to a charge of littering stemming from his arrest and paid a $100 fine. Five other charges were dropped.
Columbus police didn’t immediately return a request for comment today but had accused Hines of underage drinking, trying to flee police and resisting arrest.
Richard Bash, the attorney for the city of Columbus — also named in the lawsuit — said today that the city had not yet been served and declined to comment.
That night, police approached Hines near Ohio State’s student union after reportedly seeing him drinking beer with other students; Hines denies he was drinking.
Although Hines was unarmed and police had put him in handcuffs, the lawsuit accuses officers of throwing him to the ground, yanking on his arms to cause the handcuffs to cut deeply into his wrists, repeatedly punching him in the head and hog-tying him.
Hines was left with injuries to his head, eyes, and wrists, has permanent scarring, and has endured mental anguish, humiliation, and severe emotional distress as a result, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also accuses the officers involved of conspiring with each other to lie about the beating and failing to accurately report their use of force.
Hines’ father, a pastor at a church Jackson, Mich., distributed fliers across the Ohio State campus following the beating, showing pictures of his son with a bloody and swollen face and asking: “Is this justice, or is this police brutality?” and “What if it were your child?”
The Rev. James Hines and Joseph Hines’ attorney, David Goldstein, did not respond to calls for comment today.