The Memphis Police Director is condemning seven officers accused of beating up two University of Memphis students. The students, who are football players for the U of M, are suing the officers and the city of Memphis for the incident to the tune of $2.5 million. The officers have been suspended without pay.
Director Armstrong says he will not make excuses for his officers. He says they were in the wrong and will be punished.
Quinton Dupree Lytle and Michael McDonald were arrested on several charges on July 4, 2011. But, Director Armstrong says they were the victims.
"I can't imagine what a father would be thinking if my son came home in that manner," he says.
Armstrong says he will not defend the officers involved in the incident.
Officer Marico Flake and six other officers have been suspended without pay between four and 15 days for using excessive force.
The young men's attorney, Robert Spence, says Armstrong's public condemnation of the officers is too little too late, "These boys were victimized and brutalized and almost beat to death by intoxicated and drunken Memphis Police officers."
The lawsuit says Lytle and McDonald were leaving Beale Street with two women when an off duty officer referred to the white women as snow bunnies, and told the young men to keep walking. The suit says several officers then attacked, unprovoked.
Spence calls the incident a hate crime and says officers were drinking at the police precinct.
Armstrong says the investigation confirms the drinking and racial language, "You go back and it's so unfortunate. July 3rd, just hours before we (had) lost an officer in the line of duty. Apparently these officers chose to deal with that in a manner we feel was inappropriate."
The officers arrested McDonald and Lytle on Public Intoxication, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest charges. Those charges were dropped.
The District Attorney General will not press charges against the officers, to the disappointment of the victims.
"Pictures alone are not all we look at and I think the public would not want us to be looking at just pictures and making the pictures speak for themselves," says D.A. Amy Weirich.
"To senselessly and without justification beat two young men to a pulp and you get a four day suspension, I'll let the public judge whether that is the right punishment for the crime that was committed. Make no mistake about it, it was a crime," says Spence.
Armstrong says several officers are still waiting for their administrative hearings in the case and more discipline could follow.
A court date for the lawsuit has not been set.