Jury Awards $300,000 To Chicago Man Cop Punched While Handcuffed


A federal jury has awarded more than $300,000 in damages to a West Side man who was punched in the face by a Chicago police officer while handcuffed, fracturing his jaw.

After a three-week trial and more than two days of deliberation, the jury on Wednesday found that Officer Matthew Bouch used excessive force when he struck Devonte James during an arrest in November 2013, court records show.

James, whose jaw was broken in two places, was awarded $304,000 in compensatory damages as well as $7,500 in punitive damages that are to be paid by the officer himself, records show.

The jury found in the city’s favor on counts involving other officers who were at the scene.

During the trial, Bouch, who has since been promoted to detective, testified that James tried to break free and that to gain control of him the officer hit him with an open-handed strike.

An expert hired by the city also testified that striking a handcuffed suspect was within the use-of-force guidelines taught at the Chicago Police Academy.

James’ attorney, Jeffrey Granich, told the Tribune he was “pleased that the jury saw through the ridiculous testimony” of the officers and expert.

“If Chicago police officers think that it’s OK to hit handcuffed people in the face and break their jaw, then maybe it’s time for someone to look at their training,” Granich said.
Court filing: Chicago agrees to pay $9.5 million to man tased by officer

In an emailed statement Thursday, Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the Law Department, said “we are pleased that the jury found in our favor on most of the counts in this case and are evaluating our legal options regarding the verdict.”

James was sitting on his grandmother’s porch with a cousin in the Austin neighborhood on Nov. 17, 2013, when Bouch and several other 15th District officers entered the front yard and handcuffed both teens, records show.

While James was cuffed and being questioned, Bouch punched him twice in the face, according to James’ lawsuit. Medical records presented at trial showed that James needed three surgeries to repair two fractures to the jaw, including having a steel plate and screws inserted to shore up the bone.

Instead of taking James to a hospital for treatment, Bouch and the other officers brought him to the Austin District police station and charged him with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, according to the suit.

The charge was dismissed two months later after Bouch and the other officers involved in the arrest failed to appear in court, records show.

For the full story visit : http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-police-excessive-force-lawsuit-met-20170622-story.html

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