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$50,000 Awarded to Florida Prisoner in Excessive Force Case

A federal jury has awarded $50,000 to a prisoner who was subjected to excessive use of force while in handcuffs at Florida’s Everglades Correctional Institution (ECI).

When housed at ECI on July 1, 2006, prisoner Michael Curry was called to the captain’s office to be questioned about an incident in the recreation yard. After Curry denied that he had exposed himself to a female guard in a perimeter patrol vehicle, Captain Christopher Forrest ordered him handcuffed and taken to segregation.

From that point forward, the facts were hotly disputed. Forrest filed a “Report of Force Used,” stating that as he approached Curry while Sgt. Demetrius Montgomery was attempting to restrain him, Curry struck Forrest with a clenched fist on the left side of his face. As Curry continued to be combative, Forrest pushed him away. Sgt. Montgomery then took Curry to the ground.

Curry, however, said that after being handcuffed he asked why he was going to segregation. Forrest cursed and said not to question him, then punched Curry in the face and head repeatedly, knocking him to the floor. Curry claimed that while he was on the ground pleading for the guards to stop, Forrest, Montgomery, Sgt. D. Segovia, Sgt. G. Diaz and guard T. Linero punched, kicked and hit him with their radios.

As a result of the incident, Curry received a gaping five-inch head wound that required 9 staples to close. He also lost two teeth. Based upon Forrest’s report, Curry was criminally charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. That case was dismissed on June 4, 2007, though prison disciplinary charges were upheld.

Curry filed suit against all of the guards involved in November 2007, but only his claim against Montgomery proceeded to trial. On August 4, 2009 a federal jury entered judgment in Curry’s favor, awarding him $25,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. However, the state has refused to indemnify Montgomery and pay the judgment, which will make collection difficult.

Curry was represented by Miami attorneys Matthew Mazzarella and Francisco Ramos, Jr. of Clarke, Silverglate & Campbell, P.A. See: Curry v. Montgomery, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Fla.), Case No. 1:07-cv-22899-UU.

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Related legal case

Curry v. Montgomery

Please see the brief bank for documents related to this case.