Indicted Fairfax Co. police officer to file defamation lawsuit

Editor’s note: The counts against officer Tyler Timberlake are misdemeanors. This story has been updated. 

The Fairfax County police officer, who was indicted on three misdemeanor counts of assault and battery after using a stun gun several times on a seemingly noncombative man in an apparent case of mistaken identity, plans to sue the county’s police department, police chief and prosecutor, WTOP has learned.

In a Notice of Claim for False Arrest/Malicious Prosecution, Tyler Timblerlake’s attorney Brandon Shapiro alleges prosecutors and police violated Timberlake’s rights in the hours after the June 5 incident.  When an individual intends to sue a municipality, the notice is a procedural requirement.

According to Shapiro, during a news conference before Timberlake’s arrest, Police Chief Edwin Roessler, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Jeffrey McKay, “specifically talked about the facts of the case and made unfounded allegations against Mr. Timberlake that went directly to the charges, his reputation and his charges.”

During the June 5 incident, another officer’s body worn camera showed Timberlake, who is white, use his stun gun on the man, who is Black, several times. Timberlake is also seen in the footage holding the man down with his knees as he tries to put handcuffs on the man. Both prosecutors and Timberlake’s own lawyer say the officer mistook the man for someone else.

Shapiro wrote. “At the time of the charges, no investigation was started, nor were any witnesses interviewed. The Fairfax County Police Department never even attempted to interview Mr. Timberlake prior to charging him.”

in July a grand jury indicted Timberlake on three misdemeanor counts of assault and battery. A trial date of Jan. 11, 2021 was set.

In a statement, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said Timberlake was “lashing out” with a “frivolous and baseless lawsuit.”

The rest of the statement said:

“After an investigation of the facts of this case, I determined Officer Timberlake’s actions warranted criminal charges. A grand jury agreed and indicted him. This lawsuit won’t deter me from taking appropriate action. At the end of the day, I am happy to walk through a hundred lawsuits just like this one so that the people of Fairfax County know that their Commonwealth’s Attorney will hold people accountable, regardless of whether they wear a badge. I will not apologize for upholding the values of this community; I will not be dissuaded from doing my job.”

A spokesman said the Fairfax County Police Department is aware of Timberlake’s lawsuit “but as a matter of policy, we do not comment on any pending or proposed litigation.”


Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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