Travis Price Sues Rock Hill, U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman After Officer Fired, Charged Over Arrest
One of the brothers whose arrests in Rock Hill, South Carolina, were recorded on Facebook Live in June is now suing both the city and U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, who represents the area in Congress.
Travis Price filed a lawsuit Monday accusing the city of defamation, false arrest and malicious prosecution. He also has filed a defamation claim against Norman.
Police were searching Ricky Price’s car at a gas station on June 23 when his brother, Travis Price, arrived to collect Ricky Price’s jewelry. Then-officer Jonathan Moreno pushed Travis Price against a large tank and arrested him.
The lawsuit says Travis Price was choked, physically assaulted, slammed to the pavement with great force, handcuffed and placed under arrest. The lawsuit also challenges claims that Travis Price tried to interfere with law enforcement. The arrests sparked protests in Rock Hill after video of the incident was widely circulated.
On July 8, Rock Hill police dropped charges against Travis Price and fired the officer, Moreno, charging him with third-degree assault and battery.
Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts said then that Moreno’s actions went against department policy to attempt to de-escalate situations.
“In fact, he escalated the situation,” Watts said during a July 8 news conference. “Investigator Moreno’s actions were not in accordance with the police department’s values or expectations.”
“Aside from false arrest and malicious prosecution, the city of Rock Hill, through the actions of its police department, did everything in their power to ruin the reputation of a hard-working father of two with no criminal record simply to protect their own interests in the wake of citywide protests,” Price’s attorney Justin Bamberg said in a news release.
In suing Norman, attorneys for Travis Price reference a June 25 Facebook post by the congressman in which Norman wrote that Travis Price started “interfering with things, trying to get evidence out of the car, and was non-compliant with officers’ instructions” and that Travis Price was “resisting or evading arrest.”
“None of that was true,” the lawsuit states. “As such, (Norman) may be held individually liable to (Travis Price) for the defamatory statements made against (Travis Price) as would any private citizen.”
Norman later updated his Facebook post after Moreno was charged.
"Despite these updates, as I have said repeatedly, law enforcement officers who serve their communities with honor and dignity will always have my respect," Norman wrote in his update.
Attorneys representing Travis Price said in the lawsuit that Norman’s post on a Facebook page with more than 33,000 fans was “publicly humiliating” to Travis Price.