Attorney: Columbia wasted money trying to pressure end of civil - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Attorney arrested in Five Points: City wasted money trying to pressure end of civil suit

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Jonathan David McCoy Jonathan David McCoy

The City of Columbia has settled a long-standing lawsuit accusing police of overreacting when they arrested a young attorney in Five Points in 2009.

It led, last week, to a ruling from a federal judge against a city ordinance. The city also agreed to pay the attorney $300,000.

Had it not been caught on video, Jonny McCoy could have had a hard time convincing anyone he wasn't interfering with Columbia police officers.

"I stayed my distance," said McCoy. "I waited until they picked him up. And that was when I said, 'Alright, guys, you know, what's going on here?' And that's when I got pushed and shoved and that's what you see on the tape."

It was October 2009 on the sidewalk close to the bar called Red Hot Tomatoes.

McCoy was trying to find out why his friend and fellow attorney Allen McAlister was being handcuffed. Minutes later, both men were in cuffs, launching what McCoy says was a series of frustrating, humiliating and haunting developments. They included a highly-inaccurate police incident report and McCoy being put in a position to witness the suicide of another detainee at the Alvin Glenn Detention Center.

"It was like a riot that was taking place," said McCoy. "The officers were screaming. The inmates were going absolutely insane and then all of a sudden SWAT or whatever you want to call it, they come in, they cut him down and I'm sitting here watching this guy as he's taking his last few breaths."

After his release, says McCoy, someone hired a private investigator who spent weeks using a video camera to track the attorney's movements around Myrtle Beach where he lives. The video surfaced as McCoy prepared to take his complaint to a federal court.

"All the video is at night," said McCoy. "All the video is just of me you know eating, walking into my office. It was very eerie. There was a lot of video of me in front and you know around my house and doing outside activities and he would be in the bushes."

"I believe that he was hired to if I changed lanes without a signal or anything, I believe he was hired to get blue lights behind me and push me over the edge. And it would have," said McCoy.

McCoy says the city wasted $30,000 or more hiring outside counsel, taking depositions and trying to pressure him into dropping the federal civil rights suit he and attorney Robert Goings filed more than three years ago -- all of it centered on a misdemeanor charge that would have carried a small fine upon conviction.

"Officers are sworn to serve and protect, not to lie and cover up," said Goings. "In this case, the cover up is worse than the crime that was allegedly committed. And somebody needs to answer for this complete lack of accountability."

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