By Patsy R. Brumfield
TUPELO – Steroid use and its alleged cover-up by the Mississippi Highway Patrol are among the claims a federal lawsuit makes as it adds plaintiffs to allegations of abuse during arrests.
The lawsuit was initially filed by John A. Hawn last February, but a motion to file an amended complaint adds four others with claims against ex-trooper Christopher Hughes of Tupelo, then-Patrol director Michael Berthay of Saltillo and the unnamed commissioner of public safety in Jackson.
Joining Hawn of Lee County to claim mistreatment at the hands of Hughes and others are Bryan Lindsey of Pontotoc County, Ronnie Horton of Itawamba County and Lee countians Heather Seawright and Matilda Moore.
Hughes began serving a prison term recently after pleading guilty to depriving another woman of her civil rights during a 2007 beating in the Lee County Jail. He was never prosecuted by the state.
The new complaint details claims of beatings and of the Patrol’s alleged lack of discipline for Hughes.
It also claims that in 2012 Hughes’ girlfriend notified MHP headquarters that she had knowledge of his abuse of citizens and steroids.
MHP and the commissioner’s office reportedly directed an internal investigation, which resulted in charges against Hughes.
The lawsuit seeks actual and punitive damages against Hughes and Berthay after a jury trial. Attorneys for the plaintiffs are Waide & Associates, R. Shane McLaughlin and Victor I. Fleitas of Tupelo.
None of the defendants has yet to respond because the new filing has not been granted by the court.
The motion to file states that Hughes’ attorney, Jason Herring of Tupelo, does not oppose the filing.