A lawsuit alleges Ironton police attacked a man for trying to record them

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A man who says Ironton police officers attacked him because he was going to record them as they searched his truck has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

Francis Murphy alleges in his lawsuit that after he was handcuffed, officers knocked him to the ground, shocked him with a taser several times and beat him.

The lawsuit lists four Ironton police officers, the former police chief and the city of Ironton as defendants.

Murphy v. McKnight lawsuit pdf
Murphy v. McKnight lawsuit (click the image to read the full lawsuit)

The incident occurred last September when officers pulled over Murphy’s wife while she was driving his truck.

When Murphy arrived, one of the officers was searching the truck. According to the lawsuit, this is what happened next:

The officer told Murphy to back away. Murphy did and told the officer he didn’t want anything “planted” in his truck and said he was going to record the search.

The officer approached Murphy and told him to put his hands behind his back. Murphy said he hadn’t done anything to justify an arrest.

Two other officers helped place Murphy in handcuffs. An officer made a radio call saying he had “one resisting.” Murphy said he was not resisting and asked “Why are you guys doing this? What have I done wrong?”

The officers then took Murphy to the ground and struck him several times, leaving him with a fractured nose, injury to his left eye and cuts and abrasions on his head.

Police filed a criminal complaint against Murphy, but the Lawrence County prosecutor declined to pursue the case and dismissed the charges, according to the lawsuit.

Murphy alleges the officers violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him when he said he was going to record them. Courts have ruled the First Amendment gives the public the right to film police in action.

Murphy also alleges the officers’ actions violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against excessive force.

A call to the city of Ironton for comment was not returned before this story was published.