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An 18-year-old black high school student in South Bend, Indiana, has been awarded a mere $18 in damages for being attacked, tasered and unlawfully arrested four years ago
They knocked on Franklin’s door at about 2:30am, and entered without asking permission or producing a warrant.
Franklin was sleeping at home when armed police stormed into his bedroom, dragged the teenager outside, handcuffed him and put in the back of a police car.
They soon understood that they had arrested the wrong person, but Franklin was still taken into custody
Franklin and his family tried to sue police and city officials, but it took them about four years to reach a verdict. The jury recently decided that the police officers had indeed breached the teenager’s constitutional rights.
the court ordered the defendants to pay a mere $1 each in damages - a total of $18.
The community is outraged over the decision, with the local pastor putting it clear and simple that the ruling means that “Your rights are worth a dollar.”
"...blacks in America, we have no rights. How can we fight for something when the system was not made for us in the first place?”
The Franklin family was initially seeking $1 million, but damages are usually paid according to evidence that is presented to court: medical bills, lost property, post-traumatic stress, required psychological treatment, etc. None of this was submitted by the family.
At one stage, the city attempted to settle the case, offering $15,000, the Indianapolis Star reported.
Although the jury found constitutional violations, there was no evidence presented in court that supported the amount of damages that the Franklins were seeking. He said the Franklins asked for more than $1 million in damages.
In civil rights lawsuits, damages are usually measured by medical bills, lost wages, property damage, post-traumatic stress, psychological treatment, impairment and others, Agostino said. But in this case, no such evidence was presented, so the jury awarded the plaintiffs the default amount of $1 for unlawful entry and $1 for unlawful seizure.
“You can say that they experienced a deprivation of their constitutional rights,” Agostino said.
“But other than the deprivation of constitutional rights, the jury did not find other damages that go along with that,” he said. “They did exactly what they were instructed to do. They applied the law and determined the facts.”
“I would’ve expected most juries to have awarded several thousand dollars,” Saltzburg said. “It doesn’t seem adequate for an illegal entry into a home and for excessive force. It’s so low. You can’t go any lower. $18 says, ‘We don’t really think much of these rights that were violated.’ It’s an unusually low figure.”
The same three officers involved in the Franklin lawsuit were named in a 2013 case filed by Jonathan Ferguson, a 7-Eleven store clerk with a learning disability. According to a federal complaint, the officers slashed Ferguson’s tire, and two of them challenged him to eat a teaspoon of cinnamon in exchange for $30 and a dinner coupon at a local Applebee’s. Ferguson did, and he vomited for several hours.
The officers took a video of the “cinnamon challenge,” as it had become locally known, and posted it on YouTube, according to the complaint. The parties have reached a settlement in that lawsuit.
Officer Knepper was the target of yet another civil rights lawsuit filed last year by Tom Stevens,who was hospitalized with a serious head injury following a violent arrest when cops say he was driving without headlights and failed to pull over, according to the South Bend Tribune.
originally posted by: Zarniwoop
Here is the case in case anyone is interested.
News orgs don't like to link to actual case material when they write their articles. Seems like a pretty easy thing to do.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 36] filed by Defendants Eric Mentz, Michael Stuk, and Aaron Knepper, and DENIES the Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike Paragraph [ECF No. 39]. Further, the Plaintiff's claim for Invasion of Privacy is DISMISSED. Still pending are the Plaintiffs' claims for unlawful entry and seizure under the Fourth Amendment and claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and battery under state law.