There are some instances of police brutality that are just too indicative of obvious wrongdoing for a city or department to risk going to trial. These cases are ones that usually have very strong evidence of excessive use of force in the form of police beatings or shootings captured on video. One incident involving the Dallas Police Department resulted in the city paying out several hundred thousand dollars rather than having a jury hear and see that their officers had badly beaten a man who was already detained and handcuffed.
Man badly beaten by police at a motel
The background for this case involved a man named Jon McDonald, who was arrested by police at a motel on Simmons Freeway in 2014. The victim’s girlfriend had initially called the police because he had been drinking and refused to leave the area. However, McDonald claims he was immediately rushed and knocked to the floor as soon as the police arrived at the scene before he could respond to them. Later after McDonald was handcuffed, he was placed and sat up on a hotel bed by the two officers and punched multiple times until he bled. A motel security guard was able to take pictures as McDonald was taken away to preserve proof of the incident. The police later filed affidavits claiming the force was necessary because the suspect was resisting arrest.
One officer was fired not too long after this series of events occurred and another later resigned. There was concern from local officials that the first fired officer was rehired two years later after appearing before an appeals board. Despite his connection to the beating and the financial liability of having him patrolling the streets again, the board decided it was a good decision to have him doing police work again.
The incidents resulted in the city being forced to pay out a $615,000 settlement. McDonald and his mother have claimed that he will have permanent medical issues as a result of the severe injuries he sustained due to the beating.
Why would the city choose to settle?
Settlements occur rather than a full length trial for a number of reasons. A trial is often a much longer and costly process because of the need to follow court procedural rules, schedule various hearings, prepare witnesses, take depositions, exchange materials during the discovery process, and pay for legal fees during all of this preparation. The costs of legal fees alone can run into the thousands during the course of a trial, not even factoring in the amount of the final verdict. A jury also has the discretion to return very large verdicts in some cases. It is difficult for even the most experienced lawyers to choose a jury panel that will definitely rule in their favor or return a verdict in the amount expected. These unknown factors regarding juries are the biggest fears of many attorneys.
Considering all of these drawbacks, it is often beneficial to find an amount that is agreeable based on both the plaintiff’s injuries and the defendant’s need to conserve time and money. It can also be beneficial for a plaintiff to ask for a reasonable amount that meets their needs without the risk of losing at a trial and coming back with nothing. Many lawyers are skilled negotiators who can find benefits for both sides, and these specialists are sometimes brought in as independent parties during negotiations. In some ways, a large settlement is the ideal outcome for a victim of police brutality.
Police brutality experts are available in Dallas
For those who need legal help after being mistreated by the police, there are specialist lawyers in the Dallas metro area and surrounding parts of Texas. The Law Office of Robert Gregg has been helping people with all kinds of injuries throughout the state of Texas since the 1990s.