The mother of a young boy handcuffed by a Macon cop in 2013 has filed a federal lawsuit claiming her and her son’s constitutional rights were violated.
Justin Fox resigned from the then-Macon Police Department March 18, 2013, four days after a disciplinary review board of his fellow officers recommended his termination.
The decision was based on an accumulation of incidents, including his handcuffing then-8-year-old Ethan Martin on Jan. 26, 2013, after Fox’s girlfriend told him the boy had thrown items at their dog.
The lawsuit, filed by Demetrice Martin, names Fox, the city of Macon, Overlook Gardens Properties LLC and The Woodruff Companies as defendants.
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Fox was living at Overlook Gardens apartments on Gray Highway and working as a part-time courtesy officer at the time of the incident.
Chris Floore, spokesman for Macon-Bibb County, said the county attorney’s office had not received a copy of the lawsuit Thursday and couldn’t comment.
Attempts to reach Fox for comment were unsuccessful.
Phone messages seeking comment from The Woodruff Companies, the owner of the apartment complex, were not returned.
The lawsuit alleges Fox -- while on duty as a Macon police officer and as a courtesy officer -- “aggressively approached” Martin’s older son, then 10, and ordered the boy to take him to his family’s apartment.
When they arrived, Fox “pounded violently on the door” and forced his way into the apartment, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.
Inside, Fox “forcefully grabbed” Ethan Martin’s arms and handcuffed him, according to the lawsuit.
Demetrice Martin contends Fox said his girlfriend had told him Ethan had been “throwing things” at his dog. She maintains Fox threatened to “lock him (Ethan) up” for animal cruelty, according to the lawsuit.
The boy then explained that he liked the dog and was trying to get its attention by throwing pine straw toward it since the dog was on a balcony too high for him to reach, according to the lawsuit.
Ethan remained handcuffed and crying during the encounter, which Martin contends caused “great mental distress” for both her and her son.
Fox wouldn’t leave or remove the handcuffs until Ethan apologized. He said he arrested the boy to “teach him a lesson,” according to the lawsuit.
No charges were filed against the boy.
Ethan was traumatized because of the incident and underwent psychotherapy. He lost sleep and was afraid to play outside for fear of encountering Fox, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also notes 14 complaints filed against Fox with the police department, including allegations of racial profiling and pulling a gun on an unarmed 13-year-old, in his nearly three years on the force.
Seven of the complaints resulted in Fox being disciplined, according to the lawsuit.
Martin contends Macon was negligent in failing to supervise Fox and that as his employer at the time of the incident, the city is liable. The lawsuit also argues that the police department should have been aware of the prior incidents involving Fox and didn’t properly remove him from duty.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for past, present and future pain and suffering and other damages.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.