A man who was assaulted during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is suing the city and state police, alleging that officers were ordered to stand down and failed to act even as they witnessed the attack.
According to the federal lawsuit, Robert Sanchez Turner was sprayed in the eye with pepper spray and beaten with canes, and had urine thrown on him during the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, as police officers stood less than 10 feet away and did nothing to stop the assault or arrest the assailants.
“By commanding their subordinates to stand down while hundreds of white supremacists and their sympathizers assaulted and seriously injured counterprotesters, these defendants were essentially accessories to, and facilitators of, unconstitutional hate crime,” states the lawsuit, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
Nexus Caridades Attorneys, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, is expected to announce additional details about the case Friday.
Many lawsuits seeking to hold police, firefighters and paramedics accountable for seemingly egregious violations of their duty often are dismissed under a legal precedent known as the public duty doctrine, which says that emergency workers have no legal obligation to help people in trouble, only a general duty to the public at large.
The lawsuit does not seek any exception to the public duty doctrine, rather it alleges supervisory liability and deliberate indifference on the part of Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas and Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty.