By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
PAINT LICK —
The civil trial of a former sheriff’s deputy sued for alleged excessive force during a teenager’s arrest ended last week minutes before jury selection began.
Justin Martin had alleged in the lawsuit that Andre Patterson put him in a choke hold and broke his arm while he was being arrested June 14, 2011.
Martin was a juvenile at the time of the arrest, according to the court documents.
Patterson resigned from the sheriff’s office prior to filing in January for the county jailer’s race, according to Sheriff Mike Coyle. Department policy does not allow a deputy or any other employee to run for public office while working for the sheriff.
Patterson, who has worked in law enforcement for more than 28 years, was sued both individually and in his official capacity.
The suit was filed in 2012, and the trial was to begin March 11. Patterson, Martin and their respective attorneys appeared that morning in federal court in Lexington, and the parties discussed evidentiary issues out of the presence of the jury, according to the courtroom minutes.
After a brief recess, the two parties informed the judge that a settlement had been reached, and the jury was dismissed.
“The matter was resolved, and it’s subject to a confidential settlement,” said D. Barry Stilz, the Lexington attorney who represented Patterson.
Martin’s attorney, Joshua Kidd, formerly of Richmond, said his client was satisfied with the settlement.
“(Martin) feels he got some justice,” Kidd said.
Kidd did not disclose if the settlement involved financial compensation.
The attorney said he hoped the lawsuit and its settlement sent a message to law enforcement that they will be held accountable for their actions.
Martin was arrested outside the Moberly Shell Mart. He was charged with breaking into several cars and stealing credit cards, which he was trying to use at the gas station, according to court documents.
Martin states that he admitted the cards were stolen but told Patterson, the arresting officer, that he would not speak anymore. At that point, Martin said Patterson grabbed his shirt and applied pressure while making threatening statements, the suit alleged.
Martin claims Patterson then began choking him around the neck with his arm until he lost consciousness.
Martin came to and was taken to the Madison County Detention Center. After he was released, he was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured arm, according to the lawsuit.
Patterson denied the excessive-force allegation in juvenile court proceedings, testifying that after he told Martin he was under arrest, the young man tried to “pull away, became uncooperative, and then struggled all the way from his mother’s car to the officer’s cruiser,” according to court documents. Patterson said Martin fought against being placed in the cruiser and that “he ultimately had to drag (Martin) to get him in the car,” according to court documents.
Martin was found delinquent of resisting arrest in Madison County juvenile court.
Martin initially demanded a settlement of $155,000, but came down to a final demand of $50,000, according to a trial brief filed by Kidd. The defendant’s top counter offer, prior to the start of the trial, was $2,000, according to court documents.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6694.