Federal jury to hear FMPD excessive force lawsuit filed by Lehigh Acres man

Published: January 31, 2022 2:44 PM EST
Updated: January 31, 2022 4:50 PM EST

A Southwest Florida man suing two Fort Myers police officers for excessive force and unlawful detainment will get his day in court on Tuesday.

Holley Jones claims the two Fort Myers police officers had no reason or justification for shooting him with a taser. He argues that the officer’s body camera video helps make his case.

A federal jury will take up the case Tuesday morning.

Jones, the man who got tased, claims that FMPD officers Andrew Barlow and his partner Chris Robles violated his civil rights in his civil lawsuit.

RELATED: Lehigh Acres man files excessive force lawsuit against two FMPD officers

The lawsuit references an incident from April 15, 2018, when officers Barlow and Robles arrived at a 7-Eleven at 11501 State Road 82 in Lehigh Acres in response to a “disorderly, intoxicated male.”

It is unknown if the call was about Jones.

One of the officer’s body cameras did capture video of the incident. In it, you hear one officer say, “Hey buddy when you get a minute, I want to talk to you.”

In the video, Jones tries to shake the officer’s hand. Officer Robles says, “don’t touch me.”

In the report, the officer says Jones pushed his arm, so he grabbed his taser.

On two separate occasions during the incident, the clerk told the officers that Jones was not bothering her, but the officers asked for Jones to step outside.

He goes outside before walking back inside the store.

Officer Barlow followed Jones back in the store. That is when he fired his taser, knocking Jones to the ground.

You can watch the full incident captured by an FMPD body camera below:

In an interview with WINK News in 2019, Jones explains why he went back inside.

“I didn’t know what he was going to do next, so I just decided that whatever he was going to do, he was going to do inside the store in front of everybody. I thought he was going to shoot me for real,” said Jones.

Instead, the officers cuffed Jones and filed four different charges against him.

The state attorney eventually dropped all charges.

“I think the crime here was shopping while black,” said Jones.

WINK News asked FGCU Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Dave Thomas to review the police body camera video and the lawsuit. His conclusion, “there was no legal grounds for the officers to act.”

Thomas said, “if I’m Mr. Jones, I will be afraid too if you’re going to put me in front of that car because I have no idea, he didn’t explain to me why you want to talk to me. I have every right to know why you’re detaining me. Did that information ever come up? No. It was, I’m telling you to do this. I’m basically I’m ordering you to do this other part of that is in cops.”

FMPD conducted an excessive force investigation and cleared officers Barlow and Robles.

“What their internal affairs did is they rubber-stamped an unlawful action,” said Thomas.

Both officers are still on the job.