Police Chief Jim Roberson Named In Several Cases Of Civil Rights Violations
The head of an Alabama police department where a woman was found dead in a jail cell last week was himself a defendant in several cases where jailed men said police violated their civil rights.
Homewood City Police Chief Jim Roberson was named in no less than 11 federal civil rights cases during the 1990s and 2000s, BOSSIP has learned. The lawsuits stemmed from Roberson’s time working for the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office in Birmingham, Ala. Homewood, Ala. mayor Scott McBrayer appointed Roberson as chief in 2011.
In 2000, one-time Jefferson County Jail inmate Marcus Lipsey sued Roberson, who was then a deputy, along with several others in Jefferson County, alleging jail staff threatened him, called him racial slurs and threw him in solitary confinement for no reason.
Also that year, Taurus Jermaine Carroll sued the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office, alleging that he was being held in disgusting conditions at the county jail. Carroll said in court papers that he was forced to wash in the toilet, the food was substandard and the place was infested with bugs.
Homewood City Police arrested Chapman for robbery July 14 after she allegedly swiped someone’s cell phone. The 18-year-old was taken to the town jail, and staff last saw her alive at 6:30 p.m. Chapman was found unconscious at 7:50 p.m. Officials said Chapman used a bed sheet to hang herself. Chapman’s death in police custody, as well as the death of another woman, Sandra Bland, in custody, has raised questions about law enforcement’s handling of both incidents.
In 1996, Verlan Briggs sued Roberson and others in the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office for excessive force after he said officers broke his nose and knocked him out during an undercover crack cocaine deal.
Briggs said in court papers that as he “raised up to go and get the five rocks for the driver, Tommy Bridges rammed the top part of the door into my face and knock (sic) me to the ground.”
Astonishingly, most of the cases were dismissed because the men who filed suit were locked up and didn’t have the $150 filing fee.