Some charges dropped in civil lawsuit involving police officer

Some charges dropped in civil lawsuit involving police officer
Josh Trivitt (Source: Sharp Co. Sheriff's Office)

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR (KAIT) - Charges have been dropped against all defendants involved in a civil lawsuit except for one Cherokee Village police officer.

Officer Joshua Trivitt’s case is still pending on state criminal charges.

Randell Lee Veazie filed the federal lawsuit in June 2018 in the United States District Court Eastern District of Arkansas.

The lawsuit stemmed from an incident on Nov. 12, 2016, when several officers responded to Veazie’s house in Ash Flat due to a supposed domestic issue.

The lawsuit alleged Trivitt body-slammed the victim during an arrest at his home on Nov. 12, 2016. Afterward, the suit stated, Trivitt and the others could be seen on police video “laughing and mentioning how badly Plaintiff was bleeding.”

Trivitt’s trial is set for July 18.

The lawsuit was initially filed in Sharp County Circuit Court but later dropped and moved to the federal court system.

A federal judge issued a stay in the lawsuit.

Joshua Trivitt was arrested for second-degree battery on Aug. 6. He was released shortly after his probable cause hearing.

Trivitt’s attorney filed a motion 10 days after his arrest, on Aug. 10, seeking to put the federal civil lawsuit on hold while the criminal case played out in Sharp County Circuit Court.

Trivitt appeared before a judge on the criminal charges on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Trivitt’s attorney also filed a motion for discovery of evidence in the case.

In the motion to issue a stay in the case, Trivitt’s attorney made the case to have the stay issued.

“This motion is not submitted for the purposes of delay; rather it is to prevent prejudice to the named Defendants, prevent unneeded congestion of the Court’s Docket' preserve the interest of the persons note named in the civil cause of action' and to preserve the interest of the public, without prejudice to Plaintiff [Veazie],” the motion stated.

In a response filed on Aug. 21, Veazie’s attorneys acknowledged the need to issue a stay for Josh Trivitt, as he’s the one facing a criminal charge, but it was clear they weren’t happy with a delay in the case.

“Veazie acknowledges that Mr. Trivitt’s actions have placed him in a Catch-22 situation. How can he defend his actions in this case without incriminating himself?” the response stated. “Of course, that is a situation of his own making, and yet now he pleads with this Court to stay these proceedings until his criminal case is completed, force Veazie to stand idly by for his day in court.”

Veazie’s attorneys, however, argued that the case should proceed against the others. “None of the other Defendants are in the same Catch-22 situation as Mr. Trivitt.”

Veazie’s attorneys argued that while Trivitt does face a criminal charge, their lawsuit involves more than just the initial incident.

“How does the fact that Mr. Trivitt has been charged with a criminal offense make any difference to Veazie’s claim against the City... that it condones violence by its officers.”

“Veazie concedes this case should be stayed as against Mr. Trivitt, insofar as obtaining discovery directly from him, because of the Fifth Amendment implications.”

In the end, the judge agreed with Veazie’s attorneys. Judge Billy Roy Wilson ordered a stay in the civil suit against Defendant Joshua Trivitt but ordered the case will continue against the other defendants.

The defendants listed on the lawsuit are Josh Trivitt, Colton M. Wilson, Jack N. Lowe, Tom Rigsby, Ash Flat Police Chief Anthony Wiles, Cherokee Village Police Chief Rickey Crook, Sharp County Sheriff Mark Counts, the City of Ash Flat, the City of Cherokee Village, and Sharp County.

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