An Oklahoma woman has filed a lawsuit against the police in Arkansas after being violently arrested following a car accident on May 14th, 2020. Tyler McClain is suing the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office and the Greenwood Police Department in Arkansas for police brutality, according to 5NEWS.
McClain had just moved to Arkansas and was driving on Highway 10 in rural Arkansas near Greenwood with her dog when her vehicle hydroplaned around 2 a.m. and caused her to crash. An ambulance happened to drive by the scene and stopped to assist the then-19-year-old. EMS workers helped a disoriented McClain and notified the police of the accident. They also advised the police that they believed McClain was disoriented from the crash.
McClain said she was treated like a criminal once the police arrived. The lawsuit contends that McClain was disorientated when deputies escorted her to her vehicle to remove her belongings. Confused, she popped the hood of her vehicle because she believed she could fix her car and drive herself home. She was sitting in the driver’s seat trying to get the airbag back into the steering column when the deputies tried to alert McClain, but she was unresponsive.
According to the lawsuit, the deputies became agitated and commanded her to exit her vehicle before they forcibly removed her, causing her to fall to the ground. Bodycam footage captured the deputies handcuffing McClain on the ground and putting her in shackles as she begged for help. They also tased her in an attempt to get her to move after she was already restrained.
“All I could do was look around and there were so many people attacking me and I was confused,” she said. “I’m a victim. I’m not a suspect. My life was put in danger.”
McClain filed a federal lawsuit on June 21, 2022, in an attempt to have those involved with her arrest be held accountable. McClain’s attorney John Burris said his client was wrongfully arrested, shackled and tased after she had already been restrained. He added that she did not have any weapons nor did she have any drugs or alcohol in her system.
“It’s a federal civil rights lawsuit where we’re alleging excessive force was used against her and she was falsely arrested, flashed or detained, and criminal charges filed against her should not have been filed,” said Burris. McClain is seeking punitive and compensatory damages. She also wants the Greenwood Police Department and the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office to make changes to their training practices to avoid future violent arrests.
Another attorney for McClain, DeWitt Lacy, said that other officers could have stopped the assault on his client but did nothing, which Lacy said was a reflection of a certain kind of “culture.”
“The other officers who could have stepped in and stopped this at any time, but did not, it speaks to a culture that allows this kind of treatment.”
McClain’s mother, Talisha McClain, said the police are supposed to protect and serve but instead hurt her child. She has set up a Go Fund Me account on behalf of her daughter, who she said is traumatized by the violent arrest and has twice attempted suicide since the accident.
“Tyler has been hospitalized twice since this incident for attempting suicide. Tyler had a concussion. She has been in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy,” she wrote. “Tyler life has been affected physically, mentally, and financially. Tyler has very bad migraines memory loss back and neck pain. Tyler has been diagnosed with psychosis, PTSD, anxiety, Major Depression, [and] cognitive disorder.”
McClain was charged with multiple misdemeanors and second-degree battery before the charges were dropped by the prosecutor. The Greenwood Police Department and the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department had no comment.