A Common Pleas jury has awarded $202,500, including $70,000 in punitive damages, to an East Oak Lane man who was beaten and Tasered by police in 2006 in a wrongly suspected auto theft.
Last Thursday, a 12-member jury awarded the money to David Ashby, now 22, of Anchor Street near 9th, who received first-degree burns from three taser shots, and cuts and bruises from being kicked.
After a three-day civil trial before Judge John Milton Younge, the jury found Sgt. Derrick Wood liable for assault and battery, for $12,500.
Wood and Officer Edgar Melendez were found liable for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution, for $60,000 each.
The jury also imposed punitive damages on Wood for $50,000 and Melendez, for $20,000.
"The jury found the officers' conduct intolerable," said Robert J. Levant, Ashby's co-counsel with lawyer Alan J. Tauber. "[The jurors] were particularly outraged by false prosecution based on a false set of facts."
The incident occurred on Aug. 23, 2006, when Ashby volunteered to drive fashion models to Penn's Landing for a fashion show after a rehearsal at Broad and Loudon streets, according to court records.
About 9:45 p.m., Ashby went to clean out his car, when a patrol car drove by and the officers believed they saw an auto theft in progress, according to court records.
Wood and Melendez ordered Ashby out of the car.
Ashby gave the officers his driver's license and told them that his registration and insurance were in the glove compartment.
One of the models challenged the officers, and she was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Melendez then grabbed Ashby by the arm, and Ashby pulled his arm away, asking what was going on, according to court records.
Melendez pulled out a canister of pepper spray, which he tried to spray on Ashby, who ducked - or pushed Melendez's hand away - then lost his balance and fell against a gate.
The officers contended that they became contaminated, and pinned Ashby against the fence.
According to the plaintiff, the two officers contradicted each other on the stand.
Each claimed that Ashby lowered his head and charged him against the fence. Ashby was later Tasered by a third officer, Sgt. Michael Whaley. Whaley was not found liable in the case.
Ashby was charged with two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and resisting arrest.
After the aggravated assault charge was dismissed in a preliminary hearing, Municipal Judge Theresa Carr-Deni acquitted Ashby of the other charges.
Ashby then sued the officers. *