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I may be getting sued for the first time!

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  • I may be getting sued for the first time!

    Ok, I am not to worried but cant help to be a little nervous because who knows how a judgement would go. Not to mention I dont think I can get sued personally anyway when I am acting under my official duties.

    I was at the location investigating a domestic call. My partner ended up calling for back up because the male on scene was out of control and I responded. This guy was uncooperative with anything we said and acting combative towards both of us and his wife, a few times we had to physically hold him back from comming towards his wife in a threatening way.

    My partner went to arrest him for pdc, He started tusseling with the subject, I got involved, and all 3 of us ended up on the ground. I was laying right next to the subject, he was screaming at us loudly, kicking the crap out of my side rib cage area, and his hand was wailing all around my face. With my palm I pushed his direction to push him away at the same time getting up on my knees. my palm caught his face. I got up and started kneeing his thigh area multiple times stun him so I could get a straight arm bar applied to get the handcuffs on. We eventually got the handcuffs on, stood him up, he broke free ran from us and fell over the couch. We got him out to house and put him in the back of a paddy wagon and then off to jail he went. Since we had to use force we always ask if they feel they need EMS to come look at them and he said no he was fine and was ready go to jail.
    Well, A few weeks later comes the first court hearing where he can go ahead and plead guilty, ask for a bench trail right then, or request a jury trail. Before court his attorney came up and tried to smooth talk my partner who is the arresting officer to drop the charges while handing me a stack of medical bills. Apparently after he got out of jail he went to see a docter about his thigh and ribs, and then to a dentist to his mouth where he alleged I punched him. And also a reciept for his glasses he said we broke. We looked at the attorney a little stunned and then handed the bills back and said sorry I cant work with you. He said he guesses he this is going to have to go to a jury trail and walked off.

    Say if he is found not guilty somehow, could he sue and win?

  • #2
    Not Sure, I have not ben sued yet. But good luck keep us posted. Also you should try to get tasers they work and prevent incidents like this one.
    In God we trust all others we run through NCIC

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    • #3
      If you think you may get sued, do not post about the incident on a forum such as this. Even though you acted properly, nothing posted on a forum such as this is going to be to your benefit should a lawsuit actually be filed.

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      • #4
        Relax - you were there as a representative of the people on legitimate police business. You had all the cause in the world to apply force.

        This is all on him. Your prosecutor should be able to expalin this to you, but believe me, even if there was a case, which there is NOT, they would go after the jurisdiction you work for - not you.
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        • #5
          Years ago, when I was named in a suit in the scope of my employment, some old timers told me that I wasn't a real cop until I had been sued. I don't necessarily buy into that theory, but I understand the point they were trying to make. They said you were a "virgin" until you had been sued!

          Whatever you do, don't let it get you down or adversely affect your work. It is the nature of the beast to some extent. Street coppers out working the turf are going to get sued and complaints from time to time. You may want to bone up on what your rights are with regards to your agency and your state. Are you a member of a labor union? I did have to give a deposition prior to the settlement in the suit that I was named in. Whenever you use force make sure you follow your agencies policies to the letter. If you don't comply with your agencies policies it doesn't look good.

          I know a big issue here is verbal commands. Even if you are in full uniform, they want us to tell people "You are under arrest!" Sort of like magic words, but they don't always get said. If you want somebody to get on their knees, prone out, hands behind their back, etc. tell them. I know it seems like pointing out the obvious, but it seems like the verbals are a big deal in my area right know. Plus, if others hear that the commands are clearly articulated, it probably looks and sounds better.

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          • #6
            I agree with 1042 on that as long as you followed your dept. policy and the subject was actively resisting than you should be fine. Lawyers will try to do anything they can to shake an officer just before or after they have been on the stand. And like Jim said verbalize loud and clear "stop resisting" is a good one I always use.

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            • #7
              No matter how hectic the action always make sure all the civilians will remember you shouting POLICE....STOP.....

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              • #8
                Deputy SC , I wouldn't worry too much about this. The Stack of medical bills are only a tatic by the bottom feeding defense attorney to intimidate you and the other officer. If he does in fact sue, from what you stated you can easily articulate that the force that used was necessary to overcome the defendant's actions. Be sure that the arrest report is very detailed in both the defendants actions and the officers response to the action.

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                • #9
                  Don't worry about this one bit. The defense attorney was using the only tactic he had to get the case dismissed because he knows he can't win at jury trial. Frankly, that kind of tactic here would get the attorney standing in front of the bar.

                  Just remember, the vast majority of suits that are filed against the police are frivolous. They file against the agency in hopes of receiving a settlement. There is nothing to worry about in this case. This has summary judgment written all over it.
                  \

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                  • #10
                    I agree with the Trooper. Relax.

                    I've been sued 7 times, at least, or been named in the suite. Never been sued individually, and the practice is generally you don't sue the individual, you sue the department, because they have the money. I've never paid out a dime, and wouldn't expect to if you were working.

                    You may get named, but the Sheriff's Office has a duty to defend your actions if they were legal, and they sound like you were using reasonable force to effect the arrest.

                    Don't talk to his lawyer, report the offer to your superior or Sheriff, let him handle it. Write out a careful, truthful statement to the Sheriff in addition to the Use of Force report, on a supplemental report, if he wants you to, or give a deposition to the County Attorney.
                    "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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                    • #11
                      I would also add that unless you are a very good writer, get some help from an experienced Officer who is a good report writer to help you write it down. Also, avoid police jargon, and especially call numbers, as they may change.

                      Sometimes we don't say what we mean. WE know what happened, and think we're saying it exactly and factually, because the experience is vivid on our minds. You can't expect others to know or to interpolate in your favor.
                      "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"

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                      • #12
                        About 2 months ago, my first lawsuit was settled. I was sued both personally and as a police officer in a 1983 civil rights action. The incident occurred in 2005.

                        He can sue whether he is convicted or not, but most likely if he does, the insurance carrier for the city/county will settle out of court. Mine went to mediation, ordered by the trial judge and we settled.

                        If your prosecutor decides to plea bargain, demand that the defendant "stipulate to probable cause" as a part of any plea deal. This takes away his right to sue because he said you had the right to do what you did. My prosecutor forgot to do so, even though I specifically requested it.


                        I agree that you should limit discussion of the incident due to the possiblity of a suit.

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                        • #13
                          +1 to what Gene L said. Most states require public agencies to defend their employees against civil suits that arise out of things they did during the course of their official duties. To protect yourself, you need to immediately write a memo to your agency reporting the matter (the arrest, altercation, and the resulting presentation of bills and demand for payment by the attorney) and request legal representation. Once you've done that, you should be fine.
                          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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                          • #14
                            So what you're saying is that in the course of effecting a lawful arrest, under the domestic violence laws of SC, you were confronted by a combative suspect who was activly resisting said arrest by fighting with your partner. And, while coming to your partners aid, you were then struck numerous times in the torso area by the suspect using his legs and were forced to defend your head/face area against attacks by the suspect.

                            Its about how you document your actions. Don't worry and never back down.

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                            • #15
                              I am in the middle of a lawsuit as we speak. In fact I have a deposition scheduled for tomorrow morning. It has been my first lawsuit and Though I have tried not to let it get me down, it is tough at times. The suit against me and another officer is totally frivolous and we both know we have done nothing wrong. I can not comment on the case due to it being ongoing.

                              Don't let it get you down. I think about this a lot and look forward to the day it all gets handled.
                              Deputy Brandy L. Winfield
                              RIP - October 14, 2004

                              www.ar15armory.com

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