(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — The family of two Black children who were allegedly assaulted at a pool by an apartment complex manager in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Aug. 2 filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the woman who was charged in the alleged assault, and the apartment complex.
“One thing we’re not going to stand for is when you mess with our children,” said family attorney Harry Daniels during a press conference on Tuesday, announcing the lawsuit on behalf of the Lee-Eury family. “And today is a day of reckoning and justice — seeking justice, not only for the Lee-Eury family, but for all families who have been subjected to injustice, and mistreatment.”
The lawsuit was filed by the children’s parents, Robert Eury and Joella Lee-Eury, in the Greensboro division of the U.S. District Court Middle District of North Carolina.
The complaint came after 62-year-old Kimberly Jennings, who is white, was arrested by Greensboro police and charged on Aug. 4 with two counts of simple assault on a child under 12. Jennings declined to comment on the lawsuit or the charges when called by ABC News on Tuesday. She confirmed that she is represented by an attorney but declined to provide the attorney’s name. It is unclear if she has entered a plea in the criminal case.
The Greensboro Police Department (GPD) said in a press release on Aug. 4 that police responded on Aug. 3 at 2:36 p.m. ET regarding a report of an assault.
“Upon arrival, officers made contact with two juvenile victims and their parents. Through the investigation, it was determined that an assault had occurred,” the statement said.
According to the GPD, Jennings was arrested and transported to the Guilford County Jail. She was later released on bond.
According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by ABC News, an 11-year-old boy, Jace Lee-Eury, and his 8-year-old sister, Jaella, were visiting the pool at the Sedgefield Garden Apartments on Aug. 2 when they were confronted by the apartment complex manager, Kimberly Jennings, who asked the children to leave because the pool is reserved for residents. The lawsuit claims that the children visited the apartment complex pool several times to go swimming with their friends, who were residents of the apartment complex, prior to the day of the incident and did not encounter any issues. It is unclear if the friends were present when the alleged assault took place.
The complex pool is reserved for residents and there’s a “no trespassing” sign in the pool area.
A subsequent altercation apparently between Jennings and the children was captured on cellphone video and went viral on social media. The video, which captures only part of the incident, shows Jennings pouring a soda on Jace’s head and striking him in the face repeatedly. The lawsuit also alleges that prior to the confrontation with Jace, Jennings pulled Jaella’s hair, and further alleges that Jennings used racial slurs. Neither the alleged hair-pulling nor the alleged slurs are seen in the video.
In an interview with WFMY-TV in Greensboro that aired on Aug. 5, Jennings said she had repeatedly asked Jace not to enter the pool reserved for residents. She also apologized for her actions.
“The other day, when he was out there, we asked him to leave, and he was mouthy, and I just, I had a soda in my hand, and I tossed it on him, and then I popped him. I did, I admit I did, and it was wrong,” Jennings said in the interview.
“But, like I said, when you’ve done it and you’ve done it and you’ve done it and you’ve asked him not to come back, and he’s tearing up everything and he cusses you out and you don’t know if he’s going to hit you again or what he’s going to do. I just reacted,” Jennings continued. “But, I will say that I’m sorry that I did that. I should’ve handled it differently.”
The lawsuit, which names Jennings, the Sedgefield Garden Apartments, the Sedgefield Realty Company LLC, and Benenson Real Estate Corp., alleges discrimination on the grounds of race, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent retention and supervision.
“It’s hurtful that [Jennings] seems to not care, and there were barely any repercussions for her actions,” said the children’s mother, Joella Lee-Eury, during the press conference on Tuesday. “I want to see something done for justice for my children and any other children that she may have hurt or discriminated against.”
During the press conference on Tuesday, the family called on the apartment complex to fire Jennings.
Asked by ABC News on Tuesday if Jennings is still employed by the Sedgefield Garden Apartments, an employee declined to comment on that, the incident or the lawsuit.
The Sedgefield Realty Company LLC did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
The Benenson Real Estate Corp. told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday that the company had not then seen a copy of the lawsuit, but said, “our organization takes this matter seriously. Beyond that, our organization generally does not comment on pending litigation.”
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