Black Man Offered $350,000 Settlement After Being Violently Slammed by White Cop
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Black Man Offered $350,000 Settlement After Being Violently Slammed by White Cop

Police
Antonio Arnelo Smith talks to a Valdosta, Georgia, police officer as Sgt. Billy Wheeler creeps up behind him to detain him. Image: (Facebook/The Valdosta Times.)

Last summer, a Black man who was slammed to the ground in a case of mistaken identity sued the Valdosta, Georgia, police department for the incident that was caught on police body cam.

According to The Associated Press, the man, Antonio Arnelo Smith, has been offered a $350,000 legal settlement by officials of the Georgia city where the violent encounter took place. Along with the proposed settlement offer approved Thursday by the Valdosta City Council, they have also agreed to create a citizen review board to help oversee local police and make policy recommendations.

The confrontation caught on police bodycam video shows a Black police officer talking to the victim, Smith, as he responds to the officer’s questions after handing over his driver’s license. A white police officer is seen coming up behind Smith and in an unprovoked move, the body camera reportedly shows the cop aggressively grabbing Smith from behind. He then viciously slams him face-first onto the ground, breaking his wrist in the process.

“Oh my God, you broke my wrist!” the 46-year-old Smith yells out as two more white police officers join in and handcuff him. As he is lying on the ground, the Black officer tells them that the man they were initially looking for on an outstanding warrant was just picked up down the street.

Nathaniel Haugabrook, who is one of Smith’s attorneys, stated Friday that he was still looking over the proposal.

“I imagine at this point it will move at lightning speed, in terms of a resolution,” said Haugabrook, who also added that Smith ”wants to see all of this behind him.”

Smith’s attorney also said that the creation of a citizen panel to help oversee the Valdosta Police Department had been his client’s top priority in the lawsuit he filed. In a letter to city officials seeking a settlement before the lawsuit was filed, Smith’s attorneys had also asked for $700,000.


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