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Michigan Police Brutality Victim Awarded Millions in Punitive Damages

011399150-police-special-equipment.jpegIn September 2010, Michigan resident William Jennings was arrested for drunk driving. Upon Jennings being processed into custody at Genesee County Jail, police officers threw him onto the ground and struck him multiple times. Jennings was awarded $36.6 million in punitive damages resulting from a lawsuit filed against the police department for the use of excessive force. Fortunately, a jailhouse camera captured the entire incident. The footage was admitted into evidence and was shown to the jury. This ultimately led to the jury rendering a verdict in Jennings favor.

Jennings attorney initially requested $16 million in damages. The attorney argued that the police officer's conduct was unbecoming of law enforcement officials. The attorney told the court that the police officers failed to serve and protect the community. The officer's conduct was extremely outrageous, and from the camera footage of the beating, shows the officers taking the entire incident personal.

The video tape shows Jennings being dogpiled by multiple police officers after he moved his hand from the wall during a pat down. He was attacked while in handcuffs, which was a cowardly act of the police officers. Jennings was placed into a safety cell, his mouth was covered, and he was tasered while a bag was placed on his head and tied down.

Jennings could have died from the hands of these police officers. The officer's conduct was not in accordance with standard operating procedures. The defense attorney justified the five officer's actions by claiming that Jennings was "admittedly drunk" and "non-compliant, resistant and combative during the booking process." An appeal has been filed to have the judgment reduced.

The award is believed to be a symbolic gesture that speaks to the nature of the attack. The jurors sent a strong message to law enforcement that these types of actions cannot and will not be tolerated. What started as a drunken driving arrest led to a $36.6 million-dollar punitive damage verdict.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in the Washtenaw County area, contact my law office at 734-274-6567 for legal representation. Depending on the nature of your case, I may be able to have the drunk driving charge reduced or completely dismissed. Do not delay in obtaining legal counsel. Doing so can jeopardize your case.

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