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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Christopher Zoukis

City of Coronado, Calif., Pays $5.5M over Excessive Force Injuries

by Christopher Zoukis

An off-duty police officer, Aaron Mansker, negligently pursued 30-year-old Steven Foley and detained him using excessive force. Mansker shot Foley in the knee and hip, causing muscle damage and the loss of Foley's football career.

Foley sued the city of Coronado in San Diego Superior Court. The city agreed to a settlement with Foley for $5.5 million.

See: Foley v. City of Coronado, et al., San Diego Superior Court, Case No. GIC879075 (July, 2008)

 

Airport Whistleblower Awarded $340,000 for Retaliation by Dallas Police

by Christopher Zoukis

A federal jury found that a Dallas police officer had been unlawfully retaliated against in two instances after he reported violations of the law, awarding him a total of $340,000.

     In November 2005, Robert Crider, a Dallas police officer who had been assigned to work at Love Field airport for 10 years, was involuntarily reassigned to the night shift at the Dallas County Jail. Certain assignments, including the county jail, were typically considered a punishment within the department.

     Crider sued the city of Dallas, claiming that his transfer was in retaliation for having reported lax security and overtime abuse at the airport. In June 2006, four months after he filed his lawsuit, he was fired. The chief of police claimed that an investigation revealed that Crider failed to report that other officers had threatened a reporter who was critical of Love Field's security operations. Crider amended his lawsuit to claim his termination as a second act of retaliation for exposing public safety issues at the airport.

     The city denied the retaliation claims, saying instead that Crider was difficult to manage and the decision to move him had nothing to do with punishment ...

Jury Awards Florida Man $11,001 for False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution

by Christopher Zoukis

A Leon County, Florida, jury found that two undercover narcotics officers for the Apalachicola Police Department were liable for damages in the false arrest and imprisonment of Willie Baucham in the amount of $11,001.

     On December 28, 2002, Baucham alleged that Officer Gary Hunnings grabbed him from behind, without warning or announcing that he was a police officer, threw him to the ground, and began to punch and kick him. Baucham said Hunnings also made racially discriminatory remarks toward him. After he was handcuffed and as he was being led to the police vehicle, Baucham claimed that Hunnings and Officer Steve James, without provocation, wrestled him to the ground where they punched and kicked him again.

     In their defense, the two officers claimed that they were approached by Baucham who offered to sell them drugs, that they did tell him he was under arrest when they restrained him, that there was already an arrest warrant in effect against him, that the physical force used was necessary, and that he attempted to run away while being led to a police vehicle. They said Baucham resisted them by flailing his arms and kicking his legs so they ...

Chicago Police Officers Settle False Arrest Suit

by Christopher Zoukis

A Chicago man, who was arrested and prosecuted for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, agreed to an undisclosed settlement with four officers of the Chicago Police Department.

     On October 24, 2007, Robinson Morales happened to be standing near some younger kids who were fighting. When police arrived, they arrested Morales, who was allegedly not breaking any law, based on a prior relationship he had with the police. Morales went to jail and to court over the charges.

     On February 5, 2008, Morales filed a federal lawsuit against Chicago Police Officers Godfrey, Marazogas, Stankus and Murtaugh for false arrest, seeking $25,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000 in punitive damages.

     The case against Godfrey and Marazogas was voluntarily dismissed, and Judge William T. Hart dismissed the case against Stankus and Murtaugh after a settlement was reached.

 See: Morales v. P.O. Godfrey, et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 1:08-cv-00772 (Oct. 6, 2008)

 

Federal Jury Awards $4 Million Over Mistreatment by Bell Gardens, Calif., Police

by Christopher Zoukis

After a three-week trial against the City of Bell Gardens, California and numerous Bell Gardens police officers, a federal jury awarded Gerardo Cazares and Marcelo Moreno each about $2.2 million for physical and emotional injuries.

On October 30, 2005, Cazares and Moreno, his father-in-law, were having a costume party in their front yard when Bell Gardens police arrived, responding to a noise complaint. The officers struck Cazares with batons and Officer Rigoberto Barrios shot Moreno in the chest with a bean-bag shotgun. Cazares and Moreno were arrested on charges of resisting arrest. Moreno was charged additionally with assault on a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon.

After Cazares and Moreno were tried and found not guilty, they sued the city and the five police officers, Barrios, Michael Cox, Sergio Tiscareno, Ricky McCraner, and Rene Ruiz for allegedly violating 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and state law. They alleged excessive force, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, governing body liability based on policy, practice and failure to train, conspiracy, and assault and battery. They also argued that individual officers wrote false police reports and lied in court under ...

Deaf Drivers Settle with North Las Vegas Over Discriminatory Police Treatment

by Christopher Zoukis

Jeffrey Beardsley and Melissa Ward reached a settlement with the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada, for an undisclosed amount after suing the city for mistreatment, malpractice and civil rights violations by employees of the police department, detention center, prosecutor's office and municipal court.

On November 30, 2002, Beardsley was stopped for a traffic violation by Officer William Silva. Beardsley informed Silva that he was deaf and requested that he write down what he was saying. Silva allegedly refused and issued him a ticket. When Beardsley addressed the issue in traffic court, he claimed that Silva threatened him.

On August 14, 2003, Silva again pulled Beardsley over. Beadersley alleged that Silva used excessive force, hurting his wrist and arm. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station where the processing officers refused to get an interpreter.

Ward, who also is deaf, was stopped by Officer Steven Baker for a traffic violation on August 26, 2004. Baker arrested her, and her request for an interpreter was refused at the detention center and in court. Ward alleged that she was held in jail without being told why or for how long.

On May 2, 2005, Beardsley and Ward ...

City of Chicago Settles for $4.7 Million After Jury Finds Police Inflicted Rectal Trauma with Screwdriver

by Christopher Zoukis

A federal jury in the Northern District of Illinois found that the Chicago Police were liable for physical injury and violation of a man's Fourth Amendment rights when they searched his rectum with a screwdriver, resulting in a $4,675,000 settlement.

On August 28, 2004, 20-year-old Coprez Coffie was in a van with friends when he was pulled over by the Chicago Police. After searching the vehicle and his friends, Officers Scott Korhonen and Gerald Lodwich let everyone except Coffie leave. Coffie claimed that the officers handcuffed him and drove him to a nearby alley, where the two officers took him out of the car. Next, he said, Korhonen took a screwdriver from the glove compartment, pulled down his pants and inserted the screwdriver into his rectum while Lodwich stood next to Korhonen.

Coffie was arrested on drug charges. When he was released from the Cook County Jail the next day, his mother took him to a hospital emergency room, where he was treated for a tear in his rectum.

Coffie sued Korhonen, Lodwich and the City of Chicago for unreasonable search and negligence for the assault and failure to intervene. At trial, a forensic ...

California Woman Awarded $149,400 for Excessive Force by Jail Officials

by Christopher Zoukis

Karen Carter, a 43-year-old dental hygienist, was awarded $149,400 by a federal jury after they found that four Santa Clara, California, jail guards used excessive force against her.

On April 3, 2005, Carter was escorted out of a bar by two bouncers. Carter called the police, who, upon arriving, arrested her for public intoxication. During the booking process, in which Carter admitted to being intoxicated, she contended that guards Michelle Asban, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Thomas Duran, and Elmer Wheeler used an unnecessary amount of force against her. She claimed that Asban and Rodriguez twisted her arm to get her to spit out her gum, and that Rodriguez twisted and pulled her fingers while she was being fingerprinted. Pulling her arm back to avoid this, Carter said the officers slammed her to the floor, sat on her, and beat her for several minutes. She was then left alone in a cell strapped to a restraint chair for 2 1/2 hours.

Carter sued the four jail guards in federal court for violating her civil rights by using excessive force. She claimed to have suffered bruising and strains to her neck, back and arms that permanently precluded her from ...

City, Police of Speedway, Ind., Settle False Arrest and Excessive Force Suit

     by Christopher Zoukis

    Edward Bowden agreed to a settlement of an undisclosed amount with the city of Speedway, Indiana, and the Speedway Police Department for civil rights violations against him.

     On December 19, 2004, Bowden and an associate were delivering bottled water when he was detained by Officer Tracey D. Cantrell of the Town of Speedway Police Department. Bowden alleged that after the officers determined there was no crime in progress, they sought to search his associate's car.

     As Bowden backed away from the vehicle, he said Cantrell began shouting at him, twisted his arm behind his back and threw him to the ground, resulting in broken teeth. Bowden was arrested for resisting arrest, even though he claimed that he did not resist.

     Bowden sued Cantrell, the Town of Speedway and the Speedway Police Department for false arrest, excessive force and negligent supervision and training. He sought compensation for time spent in jail, dental expenses, pain and suffering, and legal costs.

     The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in federal court, and the case was subsequently dismissed.

    See: Bowden v. Town of Speedway, Indiana, et al., United States District Court for the Southern ...

Alaska Prisoners Stripped, Paraded on “Dog Leashes,” Held Naked for 12 Hours

by Christopher Zoukis

Twelve prisoners at the maximum-security Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, Alaska were stripped, searched, restrained, attached to “dog leashes,” paraded in front of female staff members and then left in cells without clothing, mattresses or blankets for 12 hours.

The incident may have never come to light had the Alaska State Ombudsman’s office not become involved. Four years after the incident, on September 19, 2017, the Ombudsman released a report that substantiated the shocking allegations of mistreatment and misconduct by prison staff.

According to the report, prisoners in two housing units broke plumbing equipment and flooded large areas of the facility in August 2013. On August 16, a dozen prisoners were removed from their cells, stripped naked, attached to cuff retainers referred to as “dog leashes” and paraded nude in front of female employees while guards laughed at them. They then spent up to 12 hours with no clothing or bedding in cold, filthy cells.

“The allegations are so shocking that they are almost unbelievable,” said Ombudsman Kate Burkhart.

Several of the prisoners filed grievances over their treatment. One claimed that he did not receive a write-up related to the flooding incident and thus ...


 

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