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Jasper Police Accused Of Beating Woman In Custody

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JASPER (CBSDFW.COM) - The Southeast Texas town of Jasper has a history of racial unrest.  Now an attorney says the city, its police department and two officers will be sued over the beating of an African American woman by two police officers – and it was caught on surveillance video.

Attorney Cade Bernsen says 25-year-old Keyarika “Sha” Diggles was picked up from her home the morning of May 5, 2013. He says officers Ryan Cunningham and Ricky Grissom claimed they had a warrant for some sort of ticket.

Once at the station, Diggles used a phone to call her mother to arrange payment of $100 to $150. Police video shows Officer Grissom hang up the phone when Diggles is finished with her call.

Video surveillance then shows that Officer Grissom shoved Diggles against a wall and Officer Cunningham slamming her head on the counter-top, then to the ground.  Both then handcuffed her and dragged her by the ankles to a dark jail cell and left her there, on the ground, for hours.

Bernsen says a chunk of Diggles’ hair was ripped out of her scalp, part of her braces were knocked out and she broke a tooth.  Diggles was then charged with resisting arrest.

That charge was dropped and both officers were fired this week in a city council action after a whistle-blower released the video.

Bernsen says if it had not been for the release of the video those officers would still be on the street and Diggles would still be facing charges.

He says Diggles civil and constitutional rights were violated.

Bernsen calls Jasper “a land lost in time,” and says there is a long and troubled history of police officers abusing citizens, specifically African American citizens.

“The behavior was uncalled for,” said Jasper city councilman Allen Scott regarding the actions of the police. “When you look at it, there’s no resistance on her behalf.” said Scott. He also added that the video “speaks for itself” and that this sort of behavior by police “cannot be tolerated.”

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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