A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics
According to a lawsuit filed in 2012 in Missouri federal court, Justin Cosma and another officer, Richard Carter, approached a 12-year-old boy who was checking the mailbox at the end of his driveway in June 2010. Cosma was an officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office at the time, the lawsuit states. The pair asked the boy if he’d been playing on a nearby highway, and he replied no, according to the lawsuit.Then, the officers “became confrontational” and intimidated the child, the lawsuit claims.
“Unprovoked and without cause, the deputies grabbed [the boy], choked him around the neck and threw him to the ground,” it says. The boy was shirtless at the time, and allegedly “suffered bruising, choke marks, scrapes and cuts across his body.”
The 12-year-old was transferred to a medical facility for treatment, but the lawsuit says Cosma and the other officer reported the incident as “assault of a law enforcement officer third degree” and “resisting/interfering with arrest, detention or stop.”
Jefferson County prosecutors “refused to issue a juvenile case” against the young child, the suit says.T
The allegations against Cosma were made in September 2012, shortly after he was introduced as a new officer at a Ferguson City Council meeting. Jefferson County is south of Ferguson.
Richard R. Lozano, the lawyer representing the young man in the lawsuit, provided a statement:
“The lawsuit alleges that Justin Cosma and Richard Carter, two deputies with the Jefferson County, Missouri sheriff’s department in 2010, assaulted my client during an encounter on my client’s driveway while his mother was inside their house. My client was 12 years old at the time, shirtless and was not suspected of any criminal behavior. He was checking the mail. The deputies approached my client and the encounter quickly escalated. My client was restrained, choked, thrown to the ground and hogtied by the two deputies. He suffered scrapes and choke marks to his neck. No charges were ever brought against my client. It is my understanding that Justin Cosma is currently an officer with the City of Ferguson,”
Here are the allegations against Cosma in the lawsuit filed in Missouri Federal Court: