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'Excessive Force' Lawsuit Begins Against Former Little Rock Lieutenant

Arkansas Public Media

A federal jury trial began Monday in an excessive force lawsuit against a retired Little Rock Police Department officer.

In 2011, now retired Lt. David Hudson was recorded on video hitting Chris Erwin in the face at least seven times and slamming him against a wall. This was after the officer told Erwin and his friends to leave a private party at Ferneau, a restaurant and bar in Hillcrest.

Lawyer for the officer, Bill James, says that force was necessary to get Erwin, who may have been drunk, under control.

“He wouldn’t leave. He would not submit to arrest and then he actually became aggressive towards the officer, grabbing the officer’s arm and then walking towards him,” he said.

Erwin’s lawyer says he was sober, and he got his face pounded for no reason.

“My client wasn’t resisting arrest or didn’t even understand he was being arrested, and he slammed his face into a wall and hit him in the face with his fists about seven times. That’s what he did.”

Erwin is suing the City of Little Rock and the former officer for damages. At issue is whether the city's police department adequately trains its officers.

Judge James Moody says he hopes testimony will wrap up in about three days.

This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media’s reporting at Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.

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