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$1.625 Million Jury Award For Civil Rights Violation by Charlotte "Special Police"

by Christopher Zoukis

A federal jury awarded over a million and a half dollars in damages to four people injured by Charlotte, North Carolina "Special Police Officers" in a January 2007 decision.

The lawsuit stemmed from an incident that took place on June 13, 2001 at Champ's Cafe in Charlotte. Samuel Coleman got into a verbal altercation with an employee and left the cafe. As he entered his car, John Warren Dagmar M. Jett III, a "Special Police Officer" employed by Independent, Inc., d/b/a Independent Special Police (ISP), approached and pointed a handgun at Coleman. Jett did not display a badge of any kind, and Coleman fled the scene.

Jett followed Coleman to his home, and according to the lawsuit, forced his way through the door. Jett and two other ISP "officers" then grabbed Coleman and sprayed him with mace. During the fracas, the ISP employees stung Alicia Coleman, Samuel Coleman, Jr. and Eugene Williams with the spray, and a shelving unit fell onto Alicia Coleman. Samuel Coleman was arrested, but all charges against him were eventually dropped.

The four injured parties sued in federal court for assault and battery, malicious prosecution and civil rights violations. They were represented by Charlotte, NC attorney David Q. Burgess. Jett claimed self-defense, and both he and ISP proceeded pro-se. ISP CEO and sole shareholder Hiram Purser failed to appear for deposition.

After obtaining a default judgment as to liability against ISP, the case went to a jury on damages. On January 9, 2007, Samuel Coleman was awarded $175,000 in compensatory damages and $700,000 in punitive damages; Alicia Coleman was awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages; Samuel Coleman, Jr. was awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages; and Eugene Williams was awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages. The total award amounted to $1.625 million.

Case: Coleman, et al., v. Independent Incorporated d/b/a Independent Special Police, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Case No. 3:03-cv-00461-GCM (January 9, 2007)

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Related legal case

Coleman, et al., v. Independent Incorporated d/b/a Independent Special Police, et al

 

 

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