Columbus police officers accused in a federal civil-rights lawsuit of using excessive force on an Ohio State University student over what later amounted to a litter violation said in a court filing Wednesday that they punched the young man up to seven times, sprayed mace in his face and hog-tied him, but that they did nothing wrong.
In their first response to the lawsuit, filed in October by 21-year-old Joseph Hines, of Jackson, Mich., the officers said their actions came during the course of an arrest, that they were "acting under color of law" and that they should be immune from being sued.
"Defendants deny that they violated any constitutionally protected right or any law," according to the filing.
The lawsuit accuses the officers of a "brutal, unjustified physical attack" on Aug. 29, 2012, that left Hines unconscious, led to a three-day hospitalization and caused permanent scarring. He's seeking a minimum of $75,000.
Hines was arrested after police say they saw him drinking beer with other students near Ohio State's student union. He denies he was drinking.
Hines later pleaded guilty to a littering charge stemming from his arrest and paid a $100 fine. Five other charges were dropped.
Although Hines was unarmed and handcuffed, the lawsuit accused officers of throwing him to the ground, yanking on his arms to cause the handcuffs to cut deeply into his wrists, repeatedly punching him in the head and hog-tying him.
Hines was left with injuries to his head, eyes, and wrists; has permanent scarring; and has endured mental anguish, humiliation, and severe emotional distress as a result, the lawsuit says.
The officers deny purposefully using the handcuffs to cut Hines' wrists or throwing him to the ground while he was handcuffed, but their response said that one officer punched Hines in the "left temple/eye area three to six times with quick, repetitive, hammer-like punches," and that another officer punched him in the shoulder.
The lawsuit also accuses the officers involved of conspiring with each other to lie about the beating and failing to accurately report their use of force. They denied that accusation.
Hines' father, a pastor at a church Jackson, Mich., distributed fliers across the Ohio State campus following the beating, showing pictures of his son with a bloody and swollen face and asking: "Is this justice, or is this police brutality?" and "What if it were your child?"
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