A man who claims he was the victim of police brutality is accusing the St. Louis Police Department of purposely turning off a dash cam before beating him.
Officers pulled over Cortez Bufford, 18, and a passenger on April 10, 2014, because his car matched a description in a "shots fired" call. When Bufford allegedly did not comply with orders to get out of his car, officers forced him out, KSDK TV reports.
A police car dash cam shows officers kicking Bufford and using a Taser on him, but the video stops two minutes into the altercation when an officer warns his fellow cops that they are "red," a term that refers to the camera being on.
"Hold up, everybody hold up, we are red right now, so if you guys are worried about the cameras just wait," the unidentified officer can be heard saying on the video before it ends.
Police allegedly found a 9mm pistol, 5 live rounds, and marijuana on Bufford, who was charged with resisting arrest, along with drug and gun possession, according to USA Today. Those charges have since been dropped.
In addition, a spokesperson for the city of St. Louis said the officer who turned off the camera has been disciplined for violating department policy.
Bufford's lawyers, Joel Schwartz and Bevis Schock, said the officers lacked probable cause and used excessive force on their client. They filed a lawsuit on Jan. 22 alleging their client suffered abrasions to his fingers, face, back, head, ears and neck, and incurred medical bills of $6,439.32, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
The suit seeks $500,000 in damages against officers Nathaniel Burkemper and Michael Binz and two other officers.
The video played a role in the charges being dropped against Bufford, but Winston Calvert, an attorney representing both the City of St. Louis and the Police Department told CNN the video proves the officers properly escalated force against a resisting suspect.
"The officers were not acting out of line at any time during the arrest. The person involved in this altercation had a semi-automatic gun, and the officers were protecting themselves and the public. They did what had to be done to protect themselves," Calvert said.
He added: "The city's Police Department has a policy on the use of dash cameras and other cameras, and the Police Department special order says the cameras should be left on until the event has concluded. When we saw that an officer had violated that policy, it was very disappointing. The internal affairs recommended discipline for the officer, which is what happened."