LITTLE ROCK — An attorney for the Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday an April 7 trial date has been set in a lawsuit against the Dover Marshal’s Office and several of its officers.
Ron and Eva Robinson of Dover filed the lawsuit last year accusing the Dover Marshal’s Office, the police marshal and three officers, along with the city of Dover and Pope County, of violating their constitutional rights after officers used a stun gun on their teenage son six times during a 2011 incident in Dover.
Their son, Matthew, who recently turned 18, was added to the lawsuit Tuesday.
The lawsuit alleges that on Sept. 13, 2011, Eva Robinson and her son were walking their family dog in the city when an officer drove by. Matthew Robinson, then 17, waved at the officer, who proceeded to pull his patrol car over, turn on his blue lights and began yelling questions about drugs at the teenager, according to the suit.
It alleges Eva Robinson and her son were placed in the back of the patrol car until other officers arrived, and that as the boy was being removed from the squad car by an officer his size 16 shoe apparently became stuck under the front seat.
According to the lawsuit, the boy reached for an officer to steady himself and was stunned with a Taser. His mother, who thought the officer had a gun, quickly threw herself over her son and she was stunned as well, it said.
The suit claims the youth was stunned an additional five times during the ordeal and Eva Robinson was repeatedly thrown against a police car.
Eva Robinson was charged with criminal mischief, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, all misdemeanors.
She was found guilty of the charges after a trial in Dover District Court. She appealed the conviction to Pope County County Circuit Court and was found innocent of all charges.
Attorney Pat James, who is representing the Robinsons, said Tuesday that Matthew was arrested and charged as a juvenile with resisting arrest. He was found innocent after a hearing in juvenile court.
"We are seeking to prevent this from happening to this family ever again, or to any other Arkansan or American because it’s not illegal to walk your dog in front of your house," said Holly Dickson, an attorney with the ACLU Arkansas Chapter.
"It is unconstitutional for police to detain you and identify you solely based their curiosity, as opposed to reasonable suspicion or probable cause," she said.
Rod Pfeifer, chief marshal of Dover, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Tuesday.