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Excessive Force by Des Moines Police Officers Leads to Proposed Settlement of $500,000

In September 2011, the Des Moines City County voted on a $500,000 proposed settlement to end a federal lawsuit filed by a couple allegedly assaulted by two Des Moines police officers following a traffic stop.

In September 2008, Officers Mersed Dautovic and John Mailander pulled over a car driven by Erin Evans because she had allegedly failed to yield to their police vehicle as they responded to an emergency. During a subsequent confrontation, the officers pepper-sprayed passenger Octavius Bonds, striking him with batons more than a dozen times as he lay on the ground curled up in a fetal position. Bonds suffered multiple wounds, including bone fractures and a serious head injury.

Evans was struck twice with batons after she screamed for help from onlookers.
The couple was arrested. In June 2009, a jury found them not guilty of interference and assault.

An internal police investigation determined that Dautovic and Mailander used "excessive and inappropriate force" during the arrest. In June 2009, they both chose to resign rather than be fired.

Dautovic later tried, unsuccessfully, to rescind his resignation. When he appealed his forced ouster to the Des Moines Civil Service Commission, it ordered that he be retrained and reinstated with backpay. The city is appealing that ruling.

In February 2011, U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt found that Bonds and Evans had stated enough of a case that reasonable jurors could conclude their right to be free from excessive force had been violated. The proposed settlement followed roughly seven months later. Source: The Des Moines Register.

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