A former Atlanta Police Officer was convicted Friday after a federal jury found him guilty of using unreasonable force when arresting a Walmart customer wrongfully accused of stealing a tomato from the store, then lying about in the police report he filed.
According to the Department of Justice, former APD Sgt. Trevor King was working security at an Atlanta Walmart on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Oct. 2014. According to the police report King filed after the incident, he and a Walmart employee both observed Tyrone Carnegay place a tomato on the scale to weigh it, then put it inside a black bag. Both say Carnegay then walked past cash registers and exit the store.
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According to Carnegay's account to 11Alive, he was in the store to buy items to make a sandwich, but after checking out and getting a receipt, he noticed the cashier had overcharged him for the tomato. He walked to the register to tell her, but after seeing the number of people in the line, he decided to replace the purchased one and go home.
In surveillance video from the store, King can be seen stopping Carnegay near the door shortly after and, within seconds, King is shown striking him with his night stick. According to King’s narrative in the police report, Carnegay tried to reach for his gun belt multiple times, so he used the night stick to try to subdue him.
King struck Carnegay seven times, breaking two bones in his right leg. As Carnegay lay on the Walmart floor, King searched him and found the receipt for the tomato in the victim’s bag.
According to the Department of Justice, King then wrote a false report to cover up his "unjustified assault." Additionally, the DOJ said, King charged the victim with obstructing a shoplifting investigation and with assaulting a police officer.
In a 2016 with 11Alive, shortly after filing a lawsuit against King, Carnegay said he barely had time to react.
"Before I could do anything, he started beating me," he told 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross. "He's giving a verbal command, but as he's giving the verbal command, he's beating the mess out of me."
Carnegay was transported to Grady Hospital for treatment after the attack and was later arrested and held at the Fulton County Jail on the "bogus" charges from King. Those charges were later dropped, though Carnegay said he never got an apology, or even an explanation from the officer.