MINDEN, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – How does a 58-year-old man who is the victim of an accident end up being pepper-sprayed, thrown to the ground and handcuffed by Minden police? A federal lawsuit filed against the officers seeks answers, accountability and damages.

The lawsuit names Minden Police officers Chris McClaren, Chris Hammontree, Chief Steve Cropper and The City of Minden.

Their police body cam video shows what happened.

  • Officer Chris McClaren, “Step out of the car!”
  • Ben Quarles, “Why am I under arrest? You too close to me!”
  • Officer Chris McClaren, “Step out of the car! Do it now!”
  • Ben Quarles, “Help me out the car.”
  • Officer Chris McClaren, “Step out the car!”
  • Officer Chris Hammontree, “Step out the car or you’re going to get pepper sprayed. Get out of the car or you’re going to get sprayed.”
  • Ben Quarles, “Man for no reason? For no reason?”
  • Officer Chris McClaren, “On the ground! On the ground now!

“What happened to Mr. Quarles in my opinion is wrong and should never happen in this country,” said attorney Todd Benson of Ayres, Shelton, Williams, Benson & Paine, LLC.

Benson has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of 58-year-old Ben Quarles, who was rear-ended by an 18-wheeler on February 1, 2022. The accident happened at the intersection of Pine and Main Streets in downtown Minden. The report shows Quarles committed no traffic violations and that the truck driver was following too closely.

Yet Quarles was pulled from his car, pepper sprayed and arrested.

“The rights that Mr. Quarles had violated are the right to be free from a wrongful arrest or an arrest without probable cause, his right not to be exposed to unreasonable use of force by agents of the government, in particular police officers,” Benson explained.

“I was traumatized, and I’m still in a traumatic situation because I have to play this over in my head day after day,” Quarles shared.

From police bodycam video:

  • Officer McClaren, “Put your hands behind your back!”
  • Ben Quarles, “Oh Jesus!”
  • Officer McClaren, “Put your hands behind your back!”
  • Ben Quarles, “Oh Jesus no!”

Quarles says before the accident, he had been running errands. He has underlying medical conditions which make him susceptible to COVID. He was wearing gloves and a mask to protect himself.

“When this happened in February of this year, that was the height of the Omicron wave,” Benson said.

From police bodycam video:

  • Officer Chris McClaren, “You trying to take this to somewhere?”
  • Ben Quarles, “No, no. You’re too close. You ain’t got no mask on. You too close. It’s COVID out here.”

Quarles says he lives about a mile from the scene of the accident and drives through the intersection almost daily.

“I’m actually running over myself,” Quarles explained. “I feel like that sometimes, traveling in my car, running over the exact spot where I was laying in the road.”

“That makes me sad,” Benson said. “That we don’t have enough respect for each other in this country to treat each other the way we would want to be treated.”

“I’m hoping that no one will ever have to go through this again, that it will be exposed to the public to see what the police department does to innocent people,” said Quarles.

Documents filed in the federal lawsuit show Officer Chris McClaran was ordered to pay punitive damages in another federal civil rights case involving accusations of excessive force. The jury in the 2013 case against The City of Minden, Officer Ryan Barnette and Officer Chris McClaran found “that plaintiffs proved that [Barnette and McClaran] acted with malice or with callous and reckless disregard to the right plaintiff.”

The attorneys for the defendants told NBC 6 they do not comment on pending litigation.