Family says Norfolk Police officer tackled man; now they're suing

Posted at 12:40 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 18:14:58-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The family of a man who said he was tackled by a Norfolk Police officer in 2018 is suing the officer, federal court records show.

The incident was captured on the officer's body camera. It shows Officer Aaron Nkrumah Christie run up and and grab Derrick Rountree on Dec. 24, 2018, because he was riding a bike at night with no headlight. The two then fall to the ground.

The lawsuit says Rountree was tackled and broke his leg in several places.

The Virginian Pilot first reported the details of the body camera and lawsuit.

"I know they had a reason to stop him, but they obviously didn't have a reason to use that amount of force to stop him," said Christian Connell, the family's attorney.

Separately from this, Rountree was shot and killed in the city over the summer. The $1.5 million lawsuit is progressing with Rountree's uncle named as the plaintiff.

"The damage that he suffered doesn't go away and the lawsuit doesn't go away," said Connell.

The city declined to comment on the case, but did confirm Christie remains employed by the Norfolk Police Department.

In a deposition, Christie said he yelled out to Rountree to get him to stop and thought Rountree would've realize he was a police officer. He said he was chasing him and made contact with Rountree before falling to the ground.

"Because Mr. - in my estimation, Mr. Rountree was attempting to elude the police, and in a bid to apprehend Mr. Rountree, after grasping to slow him down and based on my speed, we ended up going to the ground, based on my momentum," Christie said.

Christie said he thought Rountree may have been doing something illegal, like selling drugs, because Tidewater Gardens is a high-crime area, according to the deposition. No drugs were found on Rountree.

Connell said the case is about accountability.

"Some police officers do things that are uncalled for and this is one of those cases," he said.

The federal case is currently scheduled to go to trial in March 2022. A lawsuit has also been filed in Norfolk Circuit Court, with a trial scheduled for April 2022.

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