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Lawsuit filed against Arkansas officers for using alleged excessive force against woman

First responders told police they believed the woman was experiencing a mental health issue after a crash. The woman was arrested for not complying with police.

SEBASTIAN COUNTY, Ark. — We first told you the story of a woman who says she was mistreated by River Valley officers back in February. Now, a federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against Sebastian County deputies and Greenwood police officers who the suit says mistreated her after a car accident back in May of 2020.  

“Now that the wait is over, I feel relieved,” said Tyler "Unique" McClain. 

It was in the early morning hours of May 14, 2020, when 19-year-old McClain, who goes by Unique, veered off the road at Highway 10 and Highway 71 south near Greenwood. Both Sebastian County deputies and Greenwood officers were called to the scene around 2 a.m. Medical first responders told deputies they believed McClain was suffering from medical issues.  

McClain was asked to get out of her car and when she didn’t comply, that’s when the situation took a turn.

Talisha McClain, Unique's mom says filing the federal lawsuit is a big relief for her family. She says her daughter still suffers mentally and physically from that day.

“It was confirmation that something is going to be done about what those police officers did to my daughter. My daughter didn’t deserve what happened to her. She did not deserve that, nobody does,” she said. 

Attorney John Burris says McClain’s civil rights were violated. He says she was subject to excessive force, false imprisonment and false arrest. He says she was manhandled and treated like a criminal.  

“The lawsuit seeks to vindicate to get some sense of justice, that what happened to her was wrong, that the officers were wrong in the manner which they conducted themselves and they caused harm to her,” said Burris. 

We reached out to the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office for comment. A spokesman says they cannot comment on the lawsuit but refer to their statement from February talking about changes they’ve made since the incident. The sheriff’s office says after reviewing the video they have taken several steps to address their use of force policy and more training. 

Burris hopes the sheriff’s office has made these changes and they’ll be evaluating if they’ve done enough. 

“I think it’s extraordinarily important that there was some acknowledgment that additional forms of training had to occur subsequently to this because if it had happened before, maybe this would’ve never got out of hand like this,” he said. 

We also reached out to the Greenwood Police Department for comment but did not hear back. 

RELATED: Oklahoma family sues after woman says Arkansas deputies assaulted her in Sebastian County

RELATED: Arkansas man claims trooper injured him during George Floyd protests

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