There are some police brutality cases that make the news because of the extremely large amounts of money paid out to victims after a jury trial. Unfortunately, this money comes from tax dollars paid by local citizens which could be used for a number of other purposes. Yet at times, taxpayers end up compensating a victim for their injuries due to illegitimate police action.
A number of factors can cause this to happen, mostly related to the underlying incidents that prompted the lawsuit and decisions regarding the possibility of a settlement. A man in Syracuse who was beaten by local police received a $1.5 million verdict after a jury trial.
Middle aged Syracuse man beaten when he called for help
In June of 2014, the victim, named Alonzo Grant, had placed a 911 call regarding a family dispute. Shortly after the two police officers arrived to respond to the call, one of them ended up tackling Grant off the side of his front steps and punching and kneeing him multiple times. He was then handcuffed and arrested on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Grant also suffered a concussion, broken nose, damaged lip, and other injuries after the beating. The charges were later dropped when an independent watch group determined that false police reports were filed after the incident and the officers used excessive force based on the circumstances.
At the trial in federal court, Syracuse city lawyers defended the officers’ actions by saying the victim was agitated and there was probable cause to make an arrest given the circumstances. The testimony lasted two weeks and the jury took two days to make their decision, resulting in a $1.5 million verdict for the Grant family, along with other costs for legal fees and travel that will end up costing the city even more. The process from start to finish for this case was about four years, meaning attorney’s fees paid out to the plaintiff will be a significant burden for the city.
In an interview at the conclusion of the trial, Grant said he remains optimistic about the city’s future, but he is also considering possibly moving out of the area due to the trauma he now associates with his Syracuse home.
Why was the judgment so large?
This particular incident included excessive and unnecessary use of force, significant injuries to the victim, false charges and police reports, and an independent review that confirmed there was a high level of misconduct. Grant was also 54 years old at the time of the incident and had no prior criminal record, which makes it seem unreasonable that the officers would need to arrest him or use force shortly after arriving on the scene. It is actually surprising that the city went to trial rather than settle the case considering the evidence was so lopsided. This mistake will now cost taxpayers well over a million dollars.
In any case of police misconduct or brutality, there are some crucial factors that can affect the size of a settlement or judgment. Incidents that are clearly captured on video recordings tend to be favorable for plaintiffs, as there as little that a defense lawyer can do to explain away actions such as beating a defenseless person. The degree of misconduct involved is also an important factor. In the previous case, a man placed a 911 call to ask for help and ended up beaten and arrested on false charges. This is obviously a huge deviation from what is expected when police respond to an emergency. The plaintiff can also be helped by a sympathetic jury if there is clear evidence of police violence with little justification. The city of Syracuse could have probably saved a lot of money by settling the case. The resulting injuries are also important, as damages paid to a victim factor in the amount of medical treatment necessary or changes caused to a person’s quality of life from permanent injuries.
The specific facts regarding each incident of police brutality should be discussed with a lawyer, as they can make a more definite determination regarding the value of any case.
Get representation now
If you have been injured or mistreated by the police, it may be possible to be paid through a settlement agreement or verdict after a jury trial. There are police brutality attorneys in the Syracuse area who are available to speak with you about any problems you have experienced with law enforcement.