A Kennedale man has filed a federal lawsuit against two North Texas police officers on claims of excessive use of force, stemming from a 2020 incident when he alleges he was struck 16 times in the face with an officer’s metal flashlight.
The man fled from several officers but later stopped and also was hit in the head with an officer’s gun multiple times, according to the suit.
Police dashboard and body cameras recorded video of one of the defendants striking Clinton Grimsley with the flashlight and later saying, according to the suit, that “we roughed him up pretty good. It will be a significant use of force. I ended up getting a bunch of blood in my mouth — it’s like a bitter taste.”
Grimsley’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in April in Fort Worth.
The lawsuit identified the defendants as Kennedale Officer Christoper Kjelsen and Mansfield Officer Brian Raines.
“This case is a clear example of when an officer exceeds the level of force required in a given situation by using excessive deadly force in violation of the Constitution,” said James Roberts of Addison, one of Grimsley’s attorneys, in an email. “Mr. Grimsley was unarmed and restrained by multiple officers on the ground when Officer Brian Raines of the Mansfield Police Department struck him sixteen times in the face with a metal flashlight, causing predictable and significant injuries.”
Kennedale Police Chief Darrell Hull declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Mansfield police said they would not comment on a pending lawsuit.
In a court document filed June 13 in answer to the suit, Kjelsen admitted that Grimsley was hit in the head during a struggle, but the officer said that Grimsley refused to comply, fought officers and tried to get control of Kjelsen’s Taser and handgun. Kjelsen’s response says that Grimsley hit and injured more than one officer and the force used by police was reasonable.
On the same day, Raines also filed a response in federal court, saying he denied violating Grimsley’s rights and denied that any force used was unjustified. Raines admitted that he hit Grimsley in the head, “at times with his hand alone and at times with his flashlight in his hand” but denied hitting him 16 times and denied laughing about the use of force, according to the document.
Both officers also assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity from federal claims.
Grimsley’s lawsuit gave this account of the incident:
On the night of April 11, 2020, Kennedale officers Brian Andrews and Charles Burns were dispatched to Grimsley’s Kennedale home, responding to calls that Grimsley was starting fires in his front yard and beating on his porch with an object.
Burns and Andrews encountered Grimsley as he walked from the side of his home, and they ordered him to drop a toy sword he was carrying and put his hands up.
Grimsley complied, and he then was ordered to sit down on the front porch.
Burns asked him if needed to talk to a doctor and Grimsley said, “That’s why I was praying.”
Burns ordered Grimsley to stand up so he could check for any weapons. Officers removed a pocketknife from his pocket and began to handcuff him, but Grimsley fled from them when he feared that they were going to hurt him, the suit says.
Grimsley ran away with one arm handcuffed.
Officer Kjelsen drove up, pointed his gun at Grimsley and instructed him to get on the ground.
Grimsley got down and stretched his arms away from his body.
Kjelsen wrote in a police report that he ran up to Grimsley and tripped and fell on Grimsley’s back.
The lawsuit said that the officer’s body camera showed that Kjelsen ran up to Grimsley and kicked him in the head.
The camera showed that Grimsley was not threatening any officer or person at the time, according to the suit.
Kjelsen then got on top of Grimsley and pistol-whipped Grimsley in the back of the head, striking him several times, the suit says.
Several minutes later, Raines, the Mansfield officer, arrived on the scene and almost immediately began hitting Grimsley in the face with a flashlight, according to the suit.
Raines’ body camera recorded him hitting Grimsley 16 times with his metal flashlight, the suit says.
Raines made several statements after Grimsley was placed in a patrol vehicle, according to the video, saying, “Nah, I was hitting him pretty good, and got a (expletive) ton of blood in my mouth.”
Raines added, “I punched him and struck him with the flashlight to the face,” the lawsuit says. “That’s where the injuries are going to be from.”
Roberts, the attorney, said that “Officer Raines laughed and talked flippantly about getting his flashlight dirty when he bloodied it beating Mr. Grimsley to a pulp. This is the type of behavior that must be extinguished from police departments before communities will fully trust that law enforcement is truly here to protect and serve.”
Grimsley’s injuries were so severe, according to the suit, that a paramedic at the scene expressed concern to the officers, saying, “I don’t know if he’s opened something up but now, he’s bleeding real bad. He’s bleeding in the head real bad right now. He’s soaking up that mask real bad. Will the jail take him like that?”
Grimsley suffered several lacerations to his face and head, a fractured left orbital floor and permanent scarring, the lawsuit says.
As of last week, Kjelsen was still an officer with Kennedale police. Raines is a sergeant with Mansfield police.
Grimsley was charged with assault on a peace officer, evading arrest and resisting arrest, according to Tarrant County criminal court records.
The assaulting a peace officer charge was dismissed, but he was sentenced to 150 days in jail on the other two charges, according to court records.
Grimsley was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2002 on a murder charge for killing his father in August 2001.
He beat his father to death with the butt of a shotgun.