Lawsuit alleging false arrest filed against city, police officer, others

Former Pine Bluff Police Chief John Howell and Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., have been added to a lawsuit filed by a local man who alleges he was falsely arrested while shopping at a grocery store in 2009, and that his civil rights were violated.

Scott Mouser also claimed in the suit that he was falsely imprisoned, and that the off-duty police officer who arrested him was not adequately trained by either the police department or by Brookshire’s Grocery, where the officer was working.

Mouser had originally filed the suit against Brookshire’s, Officer Phillip Meachem and the city of Pine Bluff in 2010, and added Howell and Redus in an amended complaint filed last month.

According to the original complaint, Mouser was shopping at the Brookshire’s store on East Harding Avenue on Nov. 12, 2009, and because of his physical condition, including heart disease, he grabbed a shopping cart that was on the store parking lot and entered the store, using the cart to aid his mobility, rather than the cane he would normally use.

The compliaint alleged that Mouser was approached by Meachem, who reportedly said the cart Mouser was pushing was from a nearby store, rather than Brookshire’s, and that Mouser could not use that cart while shopping in Brookshire’s.

Mouser said in the complaint he tried to explain his medical condition to Meachem, and claimed Meachem never identified himself as a police officer or that he was working security for Brookshire’s.

“As plaintiff (Mouser) turned to continue shopping, Meachem grabbed plaintiff by arm, causing plaintiff to lose his balance and fall to the floor,” the complaint alleges. “Meachem reportedly told plaintiff while he lay on the floor to submit to handcuffs being placed on him.”

The complaint said Mouser was handcuffed and arrested and claimed Meachem never said what Mouser was being charged with, and after being transported to the adult detention center, Mouser said he was charged with obstructing governmental operations, a misdemeanor, and posted a cash bond.

The charge against Mouser was dismissed by the Pine Bluff City Attorney March 24, 2010.

The lawsuit asked for compensatory and punitive damages, as well as costs associated with the lawsuit.

In a response to the amended complaint filed May 29, attorney John Wilkerson of Little Rock, who is representing the city and Redus, denied the new allegations, and reserved the right to amend their answers as more information becomes available.

The case was assigned to Fifth Division Circuit Judge Jodi Raines Dennis, and has tentatively been set for a jury trial Oct. 22, beginning at 9 a.m.