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Christopher Johnson, a Harris County, Texas man, was arrested in 2015 on suspicion of drunk driving, and he claims in a new lawsuit that cops roughed him up for smiling in his mugshot. Johnson is suing the Harris County Sheriff’s Department for $5 million after employees there allegedly choked him as he was smiling in the photo.

Local outlet ABC 13 reports:

Christopher Johnson is suing after he says two county employees put their hands around his neck and choked him for about 30 seconds.

Johnson was arrested July 25, 2015 on suspicion of drunk driving. His attorney says at the time of booking, Johnson was berated and ridiculed for smiling in his mugshot.

“He was choked, in front of a room full of people, for smiling. That’s very humiliating,” said attorney Andre Evans, who is representing Johnson in a civil rights lawsuit filed in Federal Court.

In the lawsuit, Johnson accused a deputy of saying several times, “Man, stop smiling!”

“This is how I always take my pictures,” Johnson stated in the lawsuit.

That is when Johnson says a second deputy with gloves entered the equation. The deputies allegedly began to choke Johnson by placing their hand around his neck.

Attorneys for Johnson say that he suffered pain and anguish over the incident, which has inspired the amount of money their client is seeking. The Harris County Sheriff’s Department denies any wrongdoing and claims they followed procedure during the encounter.

The lone image of Johnson grimacing and the hands behind his head and neck do look incriminating but still doesn’t confirm Johnson’s account. However, it certainly appears bad on the part of the sheriff’s department from this vantage point.

Photo: screen cap

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