Texas man hit in face with flashlight 16 times by officer after evading arrest

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A Kennedale man has sued two North Texas police officers claiming excessive force in a 2020 incident where he alleges he was struck 16 times in the face with a flashlight.

Clinton Grimsley is suing Kennedale Officer Christopher Kjelsen and Mansfield Officer Brian Raines for excessive use of deadly force. According to the lawsuit, Kennedale officers Brian Andrews and Charles Burns were dispatched to Grimsley’s Kennedale home on April 11, 2020 for a call that Grimsley was starting fires in his front yard and beating on his porch with an object.

Burns and Andrews saw Grimsley as he walked from the side of his home, and they ordered him to drop a toy sword he was carrying and put his hands up, the lawsuit said. Grimsley complied, then was ordered to sit down on the front porch. Officer Burns asked Grimsley if he needed a doctor and Grimsley answered, "That’s why I was praying.”

Officer Burns ordered Grimsley to stand up so he could check for weapons and a pocketknife was removed from Grimsley's possession. Officers then began to handcuff Grimsley, but he ran away because he feared the officers were going to hurt him, the lawsuit says. Grimsley had one arm handcuffed while he was running away, the lawsuit said.

Officer Kjelsen, one of the officers being sued, then drove up to the scene, pointed his gun at Grimsley and instructed him to get on the ground, according to the lawsuit. Kjelsen's bodycam shows him driving up to the scene, exiting his vehicle and drawing his weapon while yelling at Grimsley.

"Get your a** down right now," Kjelsen says in his body cam video. "Get down! Get down! Get on your face. Don't f****** move."

Grimsley can be heard in the video groaning while an officer is heard saying "tase him, get him Burns."

The lawsuit says Kjelsen ran up to Grimsley, kicked him in the head, then got on top of Grimsley and pistol-whipped him in the back of the head, striking him several times.

Raines, the Mansfield officer being sued by Grimsley, arrived on the scene several minutes later and began hitting Grimsley in the face with a flashlight, according to the suit.

Raines' body camera video showed him running over to the scene where officers had Grimsley pinned to the ground and were locating Grimsley's left hand. In the video, you can hear an officer telling Grimsley "stop dude, stop" before Raines started striking Grimsley with the flashlight. According to the lawsuit, Raines hit Grimsley with his flashlight 16 times.

In court documents responding to the lawsuit, Kjelsen admitted that Grimsley was hit in the head during a struggle, but said that Grimsley refused to comply, fought officers and tried to get control of Kjelsen’s Taser and handgun.

“This case is a clear example of when an officer exceeds the level of force required in a given situation by using excessive deadly force in violation of the Constitution,” said James Roberts of Addison, one of Grimsley’s attorneys, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an email. “Mr. Grimsley was unarmed and restrained by multiple officers on the ground when Officer Brian Raines of the Mansfield Police Department struck him sixteen times in the face with a metal flashlight, causing predictable and significant injuries.”

Raines also filed a response to the lawsuit in federal court, where he denied violating Grimsley’s rights and denied that any force used was unjustified.

Raines' bodycam video shows officers loading Grimsley into a patrol vehicle while requesting more ambulances on scene to assist. After Grimsley was put into the patrol vehicle, an officer asked Raines if he needed anything and he responded, "Nah, I was hitting him pretty good, and got a (expletive) ton of blood in my mouth.”

Raines added, “I punched him and struck him with the flashlight to the face,” the lawsuit says. “That’s where the injuries are going to be from.”

The Star-Telegram reported that as of last week, Kjelsen was still an officer with Kennedale police, and Raines is a sergeant with Mansfield police.

Grimsley was charged with assault on a peace officer, evading arrest and resisting arrest in this April 2020 incident, according to Tarrant County criminal court records. His assaulting a peace officer charge was dismissed, but he was sentenced to 150 days in jail on the other two charges, according to court records.

Grimsley was previously convicted for murder in 2002 after beating his father to death with the butt of a shotgun in August 2001, records show. Tarrant County Medical Examiner records said George Grimsley's cause of death was homicide by manner of blunt force trauma.

Grimsley was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

WFAA has reached out to Grimsley’s attorneys, Kennedale police and Mansfield police to comment on the lawsuit. Grimsley is seeking a jury trial in the suit.

The Mansfield Police Department told WFAA it would not offer comment on pending littigation.

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