The Los Angeles Police Department was ordered to pay $1.6 million in damages to a disabled man after officers used excessive force in his arrest.
A Los Angeles Superior Court Jury found Nov. 7 that officers used unnecessary force in the 2009 arrest of 56-year-old Allen Harris, who sustained a broken collar bone and nerve damage to his wrist after he was handcuffed too tightly.
In addition, the jury ordered arresting officer Alex Tellez to pay an additional $90,000 in punitive damages after finding “clear and convincing evidence” that he acted maliciously, according to court records.
The 10 officers involved claimed they were unaware who handcuffed Harris and of his disability, although he walked with a limp, jury member Gayle Chavkin told The Los Angeles Times.
“It was the same testimony over and over and over: I don’t recall. I don’t recall,” Chavkin told the newspaper. “They were clearly just closing ranks … It felt untruthful to us. Somebody matching Officer Tellez’s description handcuffed Mr. Harris that day and hurt him.”
“It was completely unbelievable to us that out of 10 officers, no one remembered anything,” she added.
Tellez was unavailable for comment. LAPD chief Charlie Beck said in a statement that he was “disappointed by the verdict and the monetary award.”
In a statement, Beck questioned Harris’ claims, saying Harris never mentioned being hurt to the officers and that he waited four days before he sought treatment, according to the Times.
Officers pointed a rifle at Harris after they entered his home in 2009 with a search warrant for his son.
“[They] told me to put my hand on the back of my head and move backwards towards my [son,]” Harris said, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Harris, who suffered from a past stroke, put his right hand up, repeatedly telling the officers he could not comply with their orders. An officer, later identified as Tellez, forced him into handcuffs and walked him outside.
Doctors hired by both sides testified that the handcuffing caused nerve damage to Harris’ left wrist, V. James DeSimone, Harris’ attorney said.
“We needed to send a message that this is not right- don’t ever do this again,” Chavkin said. “We felt there needed to be consequence for him disregarding Mr. Harris’ pleas.”
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