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From the San Francisco Chronicle:
S.F. settles excessive force suit for $235,000
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Kelly Medora, a petite preschool teacher who weighed about 118 pounds, went out with a friend in North Beach one Saturday night in 2005 for some fun.
Instead, San Francisco police officer Christopher Damonte, who weighed about 250 pounds, arrested her for jaywalking, twisted her arm behind her back and broke it with an audible crack.
Although Damonte and the city denied wrongdoing, the city recently mailed Medora a check for $235,000, the largest amount ever to settle a lawsuit claiming San Francisco police used excessive force not involving a weapon.
The Office of Citizen Complaints, meanwhile, has found that Damonte used excessive force in the incident and that another officer failed to investigate Medora’s complaint. Damonte faces a disciplinary hearing at the Police Commission and potential punishment including dismissal.
Damonte, 41, a six-year veteran of the department, has been the subject of other misconduct complaints, according to city sources. He was admonished in 2003 for inappropriately threatening to arrest a woman without authority, and he is among more than 18 officers disciplined for their role in the controversial 2005 Bayview Police Station videos, which Mayor Gavin Newsom denounced as racist, sexist and homophobic.
Good for Ms. Medora for getting something approximating justice out of the situation.
There’s just so much wrong with this situation though.
- SF taxpayers forced to pay put this uniformed gangster out on the street, for their “protection”, of course
- Uniformed gangster, despite a solid career of citizen abuse, is out on the prowl
- Uniformed gangster decides to pick on young woman for victimless crime (jaywalking)
- Uniformed gangster assaults young woman
- Uniformed gangster breaks young woman’s arm as retribution for not being sufficiently submissive
- SF taxpayers forced to pay for court and prosecutor in the case
- SF taxpayers forced to pay compensation to young woman for uniformed gangster’s crime
- SF taxpayers forced to pay plaintiff’s legal fees in the case
- Uniformed gangster faces, at worst, loss of uniform and pension, and a not-so-glamorous career as an even more surly uniformed gangster working for mall security
But let’s read on:
According to Medora’s account, Damonte seemed “irate” and “angry” from the start.
“I was fearful just of his demeanor,” she testified. “He was definitely very threatening with the questions he was asking and his body language and his facial expression, the tone of voice he was using.”
Damonte grabbed her friend’s arm, held it up by her face and demanded she tell him her age, Medora said. Damonte said he would cite her, but didn’t say why.
Medora saw the name “R. Fitzpatrick” on Damonte’s jacket – he had borrowed it from another officer – and asked if that was his name. This seemed to set him off, she said. He said yes and demanded why she wanted to know.
“I don’t believe you’re treating my friend appropriately,” she replied, court records show. “You haven’t told us what we’re being cited for. Please let go of her arm.”
Medora said Damonte started to scream at her. Fearful, she said she turned and walked up to another officer and complained about Damonte.
By her account, Damonte then demanded Medora’s driver’s license. Medora said she’d give him her license if he told her what she did.
Instead, Damonte said “detain her,” by this account, and he and two other officers surrounded her. She said she did not resist them, but merely clutched her purse. Then Damonte grabbed her right arm.
“It all happened very quick,” she testified. “Like he physically took my arm and twisted it up back by my neck to a point where I was completely immobilized. And I said ‘ow, ow.’ And he pulled even harder, and he snapped it.”
There was an audible “pop,” according to a police report.
The city’s lawyer said in court papers that Damonte used an approved method of holding her arm, but she struggled. Then “in an effort to escape,” she squatted down and “broke her own arm.”
Ah yes, they do so often break their own arms…
Besides the insult and injury to Ms. Medora and everything mentioned above, the real injustice here is that the people, not this uniformed gangster, are getting saddled with the bill for his misdeeds.