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Lehigh Acres man to sue Fort Myers Police Dept.

Announces civil rights lawsuit after being tasered, arrested

March 6, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A Lehigh Acres man is filing a civil rights lawsuit naming two Fort Myers police officers, claiming he was wrongfully tased and arrested by the officers last year.

Holley Jones filed suit last Tuesday, alleging he was tased by Fort Myers Police Officer James Barlow after he had reentered a Lehigh Acres 7-Eleven. Another police officer, Chris Robles, is also named in the suit.

At a press conference held in conjunction his Detroit-based attorney Solomon Radner, Jones said the two had no legal reason to question him or treat him like a suspect in a crime.

Jones said he believes his crime was "shopping while black."

"I am well aware of the days of being a black man in 2019. I realize we are all perceived as guilty until proven innocent. That being said, I still can't believe what those officers did to me," Jones said.

"This should instill fear in everyone who has seen what's happened. He was shopping in a store. That was his crime," Radner said. "He ended up getting tased, beaten and arrested for it. It's outrageous and it happens too often."

The lawsuit will allege that Barlow used his taser on Jones inside of a 7-Eleven on State Road 82 on April 15, 2018 despite receiving no complaints that the man was acting unlawfully or creating a disturbance.

The incident was captured on video by the officers' body cameras.

In the video, as Jones was buying something, the officers can be seen apparently asking Jones to leave the store so they can speak with him. The police in the video allege the man touched the officer in provocation on his way out of the store. Jones said he was just trying to shake Robles' hand, after which Robles repeatedly told Jones not to touch him.

In the complaint, Jones alleges the officers were being aggressive and seemed to be goading him into an altercation.

The officers can be seen asking the store clerk if she wanted Jones to leave. She can be heard saying no, as he had done nothing wrong, documents state. Radner said he attempted to go back into the store, since he was worried that they would do more than talk.

Jones reentered the store.

The officers say he made a threatening movement toward them, which was when he was tased. As Jones was writhing in pain, he was told he would be tased again if he didn't stop moving.

Jones was then arrested. The charges, which included resisting/obstructing an officer without violence and possession charges, were eventually dismissed.

"I hope this lawsuit makes it clear to the city of Fort Myers that there are some officers who do not understand the law and that people should be treated with dignity and respect, especially when they've done nothing wrong," Jones said.

Jones has admitted to drug problems in the past and had drugs on him at the time of the incident. His most recent arrests were in June on misdemeanor battery and on drug charges in October.

Jones said he is clean now.

The Fort Myers Police Department had no comment.



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