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Georgia attorney wins settlement from DeKalb County in police abuse case

DeKalb County, Georgia was facing a lawsuit by a homeless man who complained that a police officer kicked him out of the county and then beat him. The county settled the case last week for $165,000.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story.

The incident happened five years ago when Robert Williams was found sleeping behind a restaurant on Halloween by Officer Ronald Jones. Williams asked to be arrested in order to find warmth and food, but instead, the officer drove Williams to Rockdale County and ordered him out of the car. Williams refused and a fight ensued which left both men badly beaten. Williams was then arrested on false charges. Jones initially lied to authorities by saying that Williams had placed him in the trunk of the vehicle and drove him across county lines at gunpoint. Eventually, authorities learned the truth, and Jones was charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault and violating his oath of office.

According to some former officers, the practice of transporting a drunk or bothersome vagrant across county lines was an unofficial policy for years, since it was easier than executing an arrest. When an officer makes an arrest, he has to spend time booking the offender into jail, but because driving the offender across County lines saved time, many police supervisors simply turned a blind eye to the practice. In fact, Atlanta officials have accused DeKalb and other counties of dumping vagrants into the city for years. The practice went largely undetected until the fight between Williams and Jones occurred.

Williams and his attorney, Mike Puglise, argued that kicking Williams out of DeKalb County, beating him and filing false charges against him all violated his civil rights. DeKalb decided to settle the case before it proceeded to trial. The hope is that this case will shed light on the widespread problem and cause police supervisors to crack down on the practice.

Our victims’ rights attorneys have successfully represented several clients who have been abused and brutalized by police officers. Police abuse or brutality covers a wide range of actions including physical attacks, verbal threats, excessive use of force, false arrest, sexual abuse and intimidation. As seen in this case, some unofficial police policies or customs are often kept from public view. A good victims’ rights attorney will expose these practices by filing suit against the officer and department under various state and federal laws which are designed to help the victims of police abuse. Doing so will ensure that the illegal practices stop and that the victim receives the maximum amount of monetary damages allowed by law.

Pate & Brody is an accomplished Georgia law firm with offices in Atlanta, Macon and Madison. Our lawyers are dedicated to pursuing justice for crime victims, people who have been defrauded by deceptive business practices, or injured through the fault of others. Our lawyers have been recognized on the list of Georgia’s “Super Lawyers”, and included among Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend Magazine.