Homeless man files civil rights lawsuit against Orlando officer, mayor

Video shows OPD officer, homeless man in physical fight

ORLANDO – A homeless man seen on video fighting with an Orlando police officer has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

The lawsuit, filed against Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando police officer James M. Wilson, was filed on Tuesday.

It stems from an incident in August of 2015, where Terre Johnson was arrested after a physical fight with Wilson on a street in the city's Parramore neighborhood.

According to police documents, Wilson asked Johnson to not sit on the curb, and threatened to cite him for having his feet in the street.

Wilson claimed Johnson threw the first punch, but witnesses told News 6 the officer was the first to fight.

Cellphones captured Wilson straddling Johnson in the street, while both punched at each other.

The Orlando Police Department cleared Wilson of claims that he used excessive force on Johnson, but the Orlando Police Citizens Review Board disagreed -- filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Tuesday, Johnson's attorney, Natalie Jackson, filed the lawsuit claiming civil rights violations.

"The overall message to send a law enforcement is to just stop the excessive force," she said.

Jackson claims in the lawsuit that Johnson was jailed for 44 days, and he was eventually found not guilty of battery on a member of law enforcement.

She claims Johnson suffers from emotional trauma, anxiety and public shame.

She also said in the lawsuit he's experiencing retaliation.

"He’s been harassed over and over again by the police, so at this point, we would like financial compensation for him and help him get off the street," she said.

Spokespeople for the city of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department refused to comment on the lawsuit.

Jackson said she's demanding a jury trial, and she is seeking punitive damages. 

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013. He is one of the station’s lead reporters. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.