LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) – Harnett County residents filed a federal complaint Wednesday alleging a pattern of abuse and excessive force from members of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.
The mother of a man shot and killed last year by a deputy joined five others to file the complaint alleging there have been wrongful arrests, bodily injuries and a loss of life.
Deputy Nicholas Kehagais shot and killed John David Livingston in November 2015. Kehagais was named as a defendant in the suit.
In one case, 66-year-old Michael Cardwell said Kehagais slammed him on a “concrete pavement driveway.”
According to the suit, Cardwell, a military veteran with PTSD called 911 after growing “frustrated with the lack of proper care at the VA.”
Sheriff Wayne Coats, former sheriff Larry Rollins and other deputies are also named as defendants in the complaint. Rollins resigned in March.
The plaintiffs allege in the federal complaint the leaders of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office have “turned a blind eye to misconduct” and contributed to a “culture of excessive force” with their indifference.
Each plaintiff is seeking a jury trial to get compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees.
Coats issued a statement late Thursday where he only referenced the civil suit once, saying “We have requested our attorneys review the civil Complaint and provide legal guidance and respond appropriately at the time provided by law.”
Coats also listed specific items he and his staff have spent “considerable time” working on.
The list includes reviewing polices, procedures and training while continuing to implement modern law enforcement practices.
“We assure the public that the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and its dedicated deputies will continue to ensure that the citizens of Harnett County receive professional law enforcement service as we work to protect all of the people of our county,” Coats said in his release. “We look forward to the resolution of the U.S. Department of Justice’s inquiry in the near future. We will provide updates as appropriate.”