Note: This post is based on a a reader submission shared with Nevada Cop Block by Maurice Neblett. If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world.
(Several quotes used below were taken from a previous article on this incident by Amelia Heymann, a contributing writer at the Commonwealth Times, which is the student newspaper for Virginia Union University.)
During a February 2014 police raid, Maurice Neblett, who was naked at the time, was pulled out of bed, beaten by as many as a dozen policemen, and then falsely arrested. He was punched, kicked, and further battered with flashlights, rifle butts, and other objects in a beating that went on for at least five minutes.
Eventually, he was placed in a choke-hold and then handcuffed. While handcuffed, one of the officers involved began verbally taunting him. That officer, Richmond Police Officer Mark Sims, reportedly whispered in his ear, “Who has the most power, us or the Bloods?” and “We should have done this to your brother, but it does not matter because he will be gone for a very long time. You will too.”
Neblett’s address at the time was 531 W. Bacon St. in Richmond, Va. The address on their warrant was “Building Two, Apartment 2120 at 610 W. Bacon St.” Not only were police at the wrong address, the address listed on their warrant doesn’t actually exist. Even if it had been a legitimate address the corresponding number would be a block away.
Further complicating the story is the fact that the two officers who obtained the warrant claimed they had conducted a 30 day investigation after they “smelled marijuana in the area.” No drugs, or anything else illegal, were found during the raid. Nor was any evidence of illegal activity by Neblett or anyone at his address ever found. The only charges filed against him, two felonies for “assaulting an officer,” were later dropped.
No connection to the Bloods, the street gang referenced by Sims while they were beating Neblett, has ever been established. Neblett has also continuously maintained that he had offered no resistance to justify the force used against him. Neblett claims the officers discussed who would among them would like to volunteer to “be an assaultee.”
Being released from jail and having the charges eventually dropped wasn’t the end of the disruption that the Richmond Police Department’s actions that night caused for Neblett, though. Because he was initially charged with a federal crime, Neblett was evicted from his apartment. He ended up homeless as a result, living out of his car for several months.
In addition, he states that he suffers daily from anxiety, post-traumatic stress, loss of sleep and “a profound and insurmountable loss of trust in the state, the city and their law enforcement officials.” Neblett is a criminal justice major at Virginia Union University and obviously this raid and its aftermath greatly affected his studies.
“I’m still in disbelief,” Neblett says. “I’m trying to figure out if I’m in a nightmare.”
However, Neblett isn’t just focusing on what happened to him and his own problems as a result he has filed a lawsuit against the Richmond Police Department and hopes the lawsuit can not only find justice for him but also can lead to changes in policy within the department that would prevent raids such as this from happening in the future.
“I’m here, I’m breathing, a lot of people that have been in similar situations aren’t here today,” Neblett says.”This is bigger than me, I’m just a grain of salt.”
Also, regardless of whether or how the fact he is a black man may have influenced the actions of the police who raided his house, Neblett maintains that this should be viewed as an issue which is bigger than just a potential race-based incident:
“This is not a color bearing issue,” Neblett says. “It is important we support this because it could happen to anyone. We have to address again that no one is above the law and they have to be held accountable for their actions”
As noted above, Maurice Neblett has filed a lawsuit against the Richmond Police. Obviously, regardless of the eventual outcome lawsuits and everything that goes into filing them can be very expensive. That’s one of the reasons the police and governments choose the targets that they do. If you can’t afford to fight them in court, then they often get away with even the most egregious abuses.
Neblett has asked us to share a link to a page he set up to help offset the costs of lawyers and other expenses involved in pursuing justice in this case. If you are able to, you can donate by clicking this link to his GoFundMe account. Even if you can’t help financially, you can help him by sharing that link to others.
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Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
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