The mother of a Rutherford County elementary school student has filed a lawsuit against an officer over an off-campus incident in which her child was arrested.
Elexecia Martin filed the suit against officer Chrystal Templeton. It stems from a bullying incident in March that led to the arrest of Martin's daughter in April.
Martin was one of several children caught bullying another child. Cell phone video showed the young kids taunting and pushing the child while he walked away.
Four weeks later, at least five students, including Martin's daughter, ages 9 to 12 were handcuffed and arrested, some at Hobgood Elementary School.
The arrest garnered backlash from parents, state lawmakers and law enforcement, saying it was inexcusable.
After an internal review of the department's policies and the officer's actions, some changes were made to those policies, the officer was placed on paid administrative leave and all charges against the children were dropped.
In the suit, filed Friday morning, Martin claims that her child's constitutional and civil rights were violated when police arrested her at the school, even though she told police she tried to stop a fight.
At approximately 37 seconds into the video, E.J. can be heard saying “Stop Tay-tay, stop Tay-tay, stop Tay-tay!” essentially trying to break up the fight and stop the bullying from happening.
The suit goes on to claim that officer Templeton omitted the fact that she tried to stop the incident, and instead said that the child "encouraged and caused" the fight.
The filing seeks relief for false arrest and malicious prosecution through the Fourth Amendment.
The suit states Templeton initiated and directed the child's arrest at the school and her transport to juvenile detention, preventing her mother from driving her to the facility. The officer allegedly misled the principal about the how the arrests would be handled.
As a result, the lawsuit states, the child suffered "severe shock, emotional distress, humiliation, sleeplessness, depression and loss of enjoyment of life."