Lawsuit accuses Clay County Sheriff’s Office of excessive force in arrest of murder suspect

A federal lawsuit is accusing the Clay County Sheriff’s Office of using excessive force.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A federal lawsuit is accusing the Clay County Sheriff’s Office of using excessive force.

Travis Roe said the Sheriff’s Office violated his civil rights when he was arrested by the SWAT team in 2020 after he was accused of murder in connection with the death of a man who was badly beaten with bats on the porch of a home near the Clay County/Putnam County line.

The suit also alleges the incident is symptomatic of a bigger problem of Clay County deputies using excessive force.

MORE: Video appears to show deputy strike Clay County murder suspect during arrest

The lawsuit claims Roe didn’t resist or pose a threat but was still beaten by deputies.

Surveillance video showing the arrest appears to show deputies first hitting a truck being driven by Roe.

Roe is then seen getting out with his hands up as deputies approach with guns drawn. Then, a deputy appears to kick Roe, grab him and then hit him on the side of the head. Another deputy appears to repeatedly hit Roe.

The family of four brothers arrested in connection with the 2019 murder of a man in Keystone Heights is alleging police brutality against the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

In the lawsuit, Roe alleges the SWAT team performed an illegal PIT maneuver, striking his truck without warning. He also claims the first deputy that made contact hit him with his gun and then several others began kicking and striking him while he was lying on the ground.

“We’re pretty disappointed we’re pretty mad, and we’re pretty upset,” said attorney Nichelle Womble, who is representing Roe. “And, you know, with this lawsuit, we feel that they need to be held accountable for those actions.”

RELATED: 7th arrest made in Clay County man’s beating death

Roe and three of his three brothers are charged in connection with the murder of Stephen Perry in late 2019. According to investigators, Perry was beaten by a group of people with baseball bats and other items following an altercation in Keystone Heights. Perry was taken off life support roughly one week after the attack. A total of seven people were arrested in connection with Perry’s death. Court records show Roe pleaded guilty last year.

“Regardless of who he is and what he’s done, he’s still protected by law under the Constitution,” Womble said.

The suit claims Roe was unarmed and didn’t resist and there was no justification for the deputies to strike him.

A spokesperson with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office says they can’t comment on pending litigation.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter