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$130,000 Settlement in Tennessee Jail Prisoner’s Beating, Rape

Local officials in Shelby County, Tennessee paid $130,000 to settle a lawsuit by a man who was beaten and raped while held at the Shelby County Jail.

The plaintiff, identified in federal court documents as E.R. to protect his privacy, was arrested for a warrant that had been outstanding since 1983. The warrant should have been recalled in 1995.

When Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies pulled E.R. over on June 9, 2007 for a seat belt violation, he “produced a valid Tennessee driver’s photo operator’s license” that indicated his name, address and date of birth.

The dispatcher informed the deputies that there was a warrant for a person with a similar name. Despite E.R.’s protestations that his name and birth date were not the same as those on the warrant, the deputies arrested him anyway.

Within an hour after he was placed in a jail cell, E.R. was “savagely beaten and raped by prison inmates.” E.R., who was 50 at the time, had never been arrested before.

He did not file a complaint about the assault at the time; he was released on June 10 after it was shown his arrest was due to mistaken identity, and was subsequently referred to a psychologist and hospitalized the following month.

At the psychologist’s direction, E.R. reported the assault in August 2007. The District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the other prisoners because the delay in reporting the crime precluded the collection of physical evidence.

Two treating psychologists and an independent expert confirmed that E.R. suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the brutal attack.

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners approved a $130,000 settlement in the case on February 15, 2010. E.R. was represented by Memphis attorney Glenn Wright. See: E.R. v. City of Memphis, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Tenn.), Case No. 2:08-cv-02378-BBD-tmp.

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Related legal case

E.R. v. City of Memphis