6/19/2015California Cop Busted For Beating Up Elderly Motorist
California Highway Patrol Officer liable for $125,000 in damages for attacking a 76-year-old driver.
A jury on Wednesday ordered the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to pay $125,000 in damages over the drunk-driving arrest of a sober man. Harrison Orr sued after the August 6, 2013 incident left him battered and bruised.
Orr was on his way to Sacramento on Interstate 80 that day when Officer Jay Brame saw his gray 2005 Toyota and decided it was traveling too slowly. He signaled the Toyota to pull over, and Orr complied.
Orr had suffered a stroke in 2006 that left him with slurred speech and facial droop. Officer Brame assumed from these symptoms that Orr must be drunk. He ordered the 76-year-old man out of the Toyota to perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus and balance test, both of which Orr failed because of his neurological condition. Orr's car had a handicapped license plate, but the officer refused to believe any explanation for the symptoms other than that Orr was drunk.
"I couldn't take his word as gospel," Officer Brame explained. "I had to obviously do my investigation to figure that out."
So Officer Terry Plumb was called and asked to bring a portable breathalyzer to the scene. Orr passed with a blood alcohol reading of zero, but Officers Plumb and Brame decided to arrest him anyway. When they said that he would have to be handcuffed, Orr informed the officers that he would not be able to balance if they put those on, as Orr could only walk with a cane. So Officer Plumb punched the 76-year-old man in the ribs, knocking him to the ground. He was then handcuffed and thrown in the back of a squad car.
At the police station, a technician ruled out the possibility that Orr was on drugs. He concluded that Orr's symptoms were the result of his medical condition while confirming that Orr was "polite and cooperative." So the officers booked Orr in the Sacramento County Jail for resisting arrest. He was not released until 1am the next day after being in custody for over fourteen hours.
A jury was empaneled to sort out the disputed versions of events between the officers and Orr. They sided with Orr on Wednesday. Throughout the proceedings, the California Highway Patrol resisted requests for documents and other evidence, incurring the wrath of US District Judge William B. Shubb who imposed sanctions after catching the government's lawyers instructing the officers not to answer legitimate questions.