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Florida Woman Awarded $75,000 for Excessive Force by Deputy

A Florida federal jury awarded $75,000 to a woman in a civil rights action alleging Palm Beach County Sheriffs’ Deputy Michael Woodside falsely arrested, used excessive force and violated the First Amendment rights of plaintiff.

Woodside responded to call that a fight was in progress at the Women’s Center in Belle Glade.  Upon arriving on Dec 25, 2008, at around 3 a.m., Maria Paul exited the center with her sister and cousin to enter her car.  When she started the car, the radio was playing extremely loud.

Deputy Sandra Horne issued Paul a citation for a loud car radio and failure to produce a vehicle registration.  Woodside was present when the ticket was issued.  He then pulled Paul over because she allegedly drove away from the curb at a high rate of speed, screeching and spinning the car’s tires.

Woodside alleged Paul refused to produce her license and other information and to get out of her vehicle.  He said Paul swung at him, which forced him to take her the ground.  She continued to resist after being placed in handcuffs; allegedly being combative by kicking and spitting at Woodside.  He claimed self -defense in hitting her in the shoulder and face.

Paul alleged Woodside was involved in four use- of- force incidents in the previous seven months, and only the day before the incident, e-mailed a photo of a female at booking whose head was covered in bandages.  He captioned it, “Forthought, think of the consequences before you mess with a deputy sheriff.”  The charges against Paul were nolle prossed.

The jury entered a verdict for Paul on January 16, 2015, in the amount of $75,000.  She was represented by attorney Ken Swartz.  See: Paul v. Bradshaw, USDC, S.D. Florida, Case No 9:12-cv-81381.

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Related legal case

Paul v. Bradshaw