Harrison County

Boosie files lawsuit saying Biloxi officer used racial slur, pepper-sprayed pregnant woman

Rapper Torrence “Boosie Badazz” Hatch filed a complaint Tuesday in Harrison County Circuit Court over being pepper-sprayed in Dillard’s at Edgewater Mall in Biloxi during spring break earlier this year.

The complaint is against Dillard’s, Weiser Security Services, Biloxi Police Department, Jim Wilson & Associates, and an unidentified Biloxi officer.

The complaint says an “unknown officer” pepper-sprayed Boosie as well as Larry Anderson and Hatch’s cousin, Tyeon Givens. Givens was pregnant with twins at the time, and gave birth prematurely after being pepper-sprayed.

An officer also called all three of them the N-word during the altercation, the complaint says.

Listed as “Little Boosie,” he says he was shopping with friends and relatives in the Polo section of Dillard’s on April 9, the day after he performed at the Coast Coliseum during Biloxi Black Beach Weekend.

He “wanted to engage his local fans and supporters, and purchase goods in support of the local community,” the complaint says.

A “plain clothes Biloxi Police Department officer working as an employee of the defendants” approached Boosie, Anderson and the entourage. The officer eventually demanded they leave the store and sprayed both men’s faces and upper bodies with Mace. The officer also referred to them in “derogatory” terms, including the N-word.

Givens was at a perfume counter when an officer approached her and tapped her on the shoulder, the complaint says. When she turned around, the officer sprayed her in the eyes and mouth, which caused her to fall to the ground. She was helped up by a family member and forced to leave the store, “all while being subjected to derogatory comments,” including the N-word.

Givens was pregnant with twins, and began having contractions after the incident, the complaint says. She gave birth prematurely, at 27 weeks, and both children suffer from “cardiac, respiratory and other issues proximately related to the assault.”

The lawsuit claims negligence, infliction of emotional distress, premises liability and failure to properly train and supervise.

The Sun Herald talked to a woman who filmed the incident in April, Crystal Whitmore. She said a large crowd of fans followed Boosie into the store, and a security guard asked them repeatedly to leave before spraying Mace. A uniformed Biloxi officer also was there, she said.

Biloxi police Lt. Chris De Back said in April that the Dillard’s security officer followed the crowd outside, where he was aggressively approached and responded with pepper spray. De Back said a Biloxi police officer stepped in. He said the police officer was assaulted, too. They suffered minor injuries.

The City of Biloxi responded to the lawsuit Wednesday morning.

"The city received its first notice of these claims on Monday and a lawsuit was filed the next day. The city is confident that Biloxi Police Department is not a proper party to this lawsuit,” said Vincent Creel, public affiars manager for the City of Biloxi.

Anita Lee contributed to this story.

Lauren Walck: 228-896-2393, @laurenwalck