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Georgia Prisoner Assaulted By Jailer Awarded $5,300

On June 21, 2007, a federal jury in Georgia awarded $5,300 to a prisoner who claimed he was assaulted by a jailer while imprisoned in the Dougherty County Jail.

Plaintiff Kelvin Boyd alleged that in 2000 jailer Santos Ruiz-Gonzalez hit him on top of the head with a pair of handcuffs while he was kneeling on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Boyd sued in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming the assault subjected him to excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment?s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

Boyd specifically claimed that as a result of the attack he suffered a 4 cm laceration to the top of his head. He further alleged that he continued to suffer from residual headaches, vision difficulty and emotional distress.

At trial Boyd presented testimony from other jailers to the effect that there was no justification for the assault. Ruiz-Gonzalez claimed that Boyd was unruly and combative, that he used only the force necessary to subdue him, and that the handcuffs accidentally hit the back of Boyd?s head as he went to the ground.

After deliberating 10 hours a jury ruled in Boyd?s favor and awarded him $2,300 in compensatory damages and $3,000 in punitive damages, for a total award of $5,300.

Chevene Bowers King, Jr., who represented Boyd, noted that in the criminal investigation related to this incident the FBI found that several of the jailers had conspired to cover up the assault on Boyd. It should also be noted that jail officials chose to retain Ruiz-Gonzalez despite an in-house investigation that showed prior instances of prisoner abuse and a supervisor?s recommendation that he be fired.

Attorney King is based in Albany, Georgia. Judge W. Louis Sands presided. Attorney fees were awarded in the amount of $22,643. See: Boyd v. Rodriquez-Gonzalez, USDC MD GA, Case No. 1:04-CV-00091-WLS-RLH.

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Related legal case

Boyd v. Rodriquez-Gonzalez