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$400,000 Settlement Accepted by Michigan Parolee Over Force by Police, Parole Officers

by Christopher Zoukis

Michael J. Trethewey, who was assaulted by police and parole officers for an alleged parole violation, accepted a $400,000 settlement in compensation for his medical expenses and injuries. Approximately $270,000 of that was allotted for attorney's fees.

     Trethewey, who had been released from prison on parole, found himself employment, but allegedly because of the hours he was required to work, was unable to report to his parole agent. On June 13, 2007, officers Jeffrey Binns and Chad Bellinger located him and requested assistance from Third District Fugitive Team members Shawn Stimac and Joseph Jones to apprehend him. In addition, since none of them were in uniform, State Trooper Thomas Vaughn was called to stop Trethewey's vehicle.

     Trethewey was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by his wife when the officers blocked him in. Unaware that they were police officers and seeing one of the non-uniformed officers holding a gun, Trethewey attempted to drive away. Officer Vaughn then struck Trethewey's vehicle from behind and pushed it off the road.

     The officers allegedly pulled Trethewey from the vehicle, punched him, kicked him, threw him to the ground and kneeled on him to handcuff him. Trethewey was hospitalized for 22 days, suffering severe head injuries, and was left with physical and mental disabilities.

     On May 17, 2008, Trethewey filed a civil rights complaint in federal court against Officers Stimac, Jones, Vaughn, Binns and Bellinger, alleging that they violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using unnecessarily excessive force in his arrest. Bellinger was dismissed from the suit in July 2010.

     On January 9, 2012, the parties submitted a motion to approve a settlement. The defendants agreed to pay $400,000, out of which $4,534.44 in medical liens, a $13,458.69 child support lien, and $268,394.13 in attorney's fees and costs were to be paid. The remainder was to be placed in a supplemental needs trust for Trethewey. The settlement was approved by Judge Gerald E. Rosen and the case was dismissed on February 3, 2012. Trethewey was represented by Fred L. Gibson of F.L. Gibson Group, P.C.

See: Trethewey v. Stimac, et al., United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Case No. 2:08-cv-12156-GER-PJK (Jan. 9, 2012)

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Related legal case

Trethewey v. Stimac, et al.