Lawsuit claims police brutality
By Geoff Belcher
May 12, 2017, 20:40
Two Kiln men this week filed a federal lawsuit against the Bay St. Louis Police Department, several individual officers, the city and the mayor seeking $5.6 million after an officer allegedly "choked and beat" one of the men after he made disparaging remarks about the late Chief Mike De Nardo.
Thomas Joseph Koenenn, III, and Cody James Koenenn – who is not Kodie Koenenn, who is running for a position on the Diamondhead City Council – filed the case this week in U.S. District Court in Gulfport.
The suit stems from a September 2016 incident in which the Koenenn brothers were arrested in the Bay St. Louis Depot District.
According to the suit, the Koenenn brothers first encountered Officer John Nelson earlier in the evening when he accused them of giving alcohol to a minor at a Depot District bar. Lather, the men claim, they were "attacked" by several unknown men after one of the Koenenn's refused their homosexual advances.
Thomas Koenenn said that he was "knocked out" and when he recovered, he noticed Cody leaning over him and trying to wake him up.
A few moments later, the brothers said, they noticed two Bay St. Louis police officers – later identified as officers John Nelson and Matthew Dickens – walking towards them.
Thomas Koenenn then told the officers that he had been attacked and he pointed in the direction in which he believed the perpetrators fled, according to a report the brothers filed with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office in late October.
As he continued to speak with the officers, Koenenn said, he was told that he could "go to the hospital or go to jail," the report said. Koenenn then asked what he had done to warrant going to jail and he was told that he was "drunk in public," the report said.
A few moments later, both brothers were under arrest and being transported to the Hancock County Jail, the report said.
When they reached the jail, however, corrections officers refused to accept the brothers because they were "still bleeding," officials said.
The brothers were transported to Hancock Medical Center to be checked out and – while at the hospital – they began to have a dispute with officer Nelson, the report said.
According to the suit, Thomas Koenenn told Nelson that De Nardo had shot himself "because of corrupt cops like you."
Koenenn claims that after hearing the comments, Nelson closed the hospital curtain and grabbed him by the throat,
After the alleged choking, Koenenn said, several other officers not only failed to intervene, they congratulated Nelson with "high-fives."
The lawsuit further alleges that the officers lied about the incident and said that none of it was captured on their body cameras.
The Koenenns each seek $250,000 for pain and suffering, $250,000 for mental anguish, $250,000 for humiliation and denial of civil rights; and $50,000 for future medical expenses, as well as $2 million in punitive damages.
Mayor Les Fillingame said Friday he was unable to comment on the suit at this time.
A lawsuit only represents one side of a dispute. The city of Bay St. Louis has not yet responded to the claim.