MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – The mother of a little girl arrested at her Murfreesboro elementary school earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against a city police officer.
Elexecia Martin is demanding a jury trial after she says Officer Chrystal Templeton violated her daughter’s Fourth Amendment rights.
It all began when video surfaced in April of two young children, later known to be six years old, hitting an older boy. Several children witnessed the fight, four of whom were eventually taken into custody-two while at school. The arrested children were between the ages of 9 and 12.
The lawsuit says 11 of the children are seen watching the fight in the video, but Martin’s daughter is not one of them. She claims her daughter is heard begging the young child to stop.
Martin further claims Officer Templeton identified her daughter as one of those 11 children and asked to speak with them. While meeting, the child identified herself as the one heard in the background trying to stop the fight.
The officer reportedly asked for help in identifying other children and assured them “no one was in trouble.”
According to the lawsuit, Officer Templeton informed Hobgood Elementary’s principal that some children would be arrested the following day, April 15, and assured “that no child would be handcuffed” and “that the arrests would be handled in a low-key manner.”
The lawsuit claims that the day of the arrests, another officer, Chris Williams, objected to Templeton’s plans and threatened not to participate.
It says after being reported for insubordination, Williams was instructed to comply and go through with the arrests.
“Officer Williams then tried to bargain with Officer Templeton, arguing that the arrests should not happen at the school and asking if he could contact the children’s parents to alert them beforehand. Officer Templeton said no – the arrests will happen at school, and the children’s parents will not be contacted before the arrests,” the lawsuit states.
However, school administrators were reportedly concerned and notified the children’s parents against the officer’s request.
Martin arrived at the school and says she was not allowed to speak with her daughter, who was stopped from boarding the school bus and taken back inside.
The girl reportedly “begged for her mother. She cried. She vomited on the floor.”
The lawsuit says Officer Williams asked if it would be okay to stop, hold hands, and say a prayer, so they did before the child was taken in the back of his patrol car to juvenile detention.
While the charges against Martin’s daughter were ultimately dismissed, and Officer Templeton reportedly commended the family’s “respect” and “cooperation,” the mother says her daughter’s rights were violated.
Martin says her daughter “suffered great mental anguish and emotional trauma as a result of the arrest and prosecution.”
The lawsuit claims the child was falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted, which are violations of the Fourth Amendment.
“Officer Templeton knew or should have known that there existed no probable cause to arrest” her daughter, Martin claims, later adding, “Based on her investigation, Officer Templeton knew or should have known that E.J. had no criminal responsibility for anything that happened in the video.”
“As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’ actions, the Plaintiff suffered damages including, among others, the following: severe shock, emotional distress, humiliation, sleeplessness, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life,” the lawsuit says.
Martin is requesting the family be awarded for damages, attorney’s fees, and other pre- and post-judgment interests.
She also demands the case be tried by a jury and they be awarded all other relief to which it may appear she is entitled.