Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer//August 21, 2017
//Daily Record Legal Affairs Writer
//August 21, 2017
A Forestville man has been awarded more than $500,000 after he was Tasered during a traffic stop in the parking lot of a McDonald’s where he was picking up dinner for his children.
The federal jury’s verdict in favor of Ronnie Lyles includes $500,000 in noneconomic damages and $1,600 in economic damages for the April 2012 incident in Riverdale Park.
Lyles, who is African American and was driving a Cadillac Escalade, characterized the incident as “driving while black,” his attorneys said in a press release.
Lyles and his fiancé were coming home after dinner in Washington when they stopped at McDonald’s. Riverdale Park police officer Job Blanco pulled over Lyles’ car but did not say why, the lawsuit states. When asked a third time, the officer said “no seat belt,” according to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
Lyles alleged he had just undone his seatbelt to get his license and registration when Blanco arrived at the driver’s side window, the complaint states.
Blanco called for backup and five police cruisers and seven officers were on scene within five minutes. He then told Lyles to get out of the car and to place his hands on the vehicle. Upon turning his back to the officers, Lyles was Tasered by Blanco, fell to the ground and hit his head on the parking lot, the complaint says.
Lyles’ fiancé was prevented from going to his side and her cellphone was taken, according to the lawsuit. She also saw multiple officers punch and kick Lyles when he was on the ground, according to the lawsuit. Lyles was taken to the hospital and then imprisoned until 4 p.m. the following afternoon, according to the lawsuit.
The verdict amount was split evenly between the officer who used the Taser on Lyles and the sergeant who charged him with second-degree assault, failure to obey and disorderly conduct. Lyles was acquitted of those charges before filing his suit, according to court documents.
Lyles’ driver’s license was suspended because of his arrest, preventing him from working as a professional driver. He also sustained physical injuries and emotional distress, the complaint states.
Lyles sought damages for excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution. The jury reached its verdict following a two-day trial before Judge Paul W. Grimm and less than two hours of deliberations, said Cary Hansel, one of Lyles’ attorneys.
“Our jury system is one of the last great American defenses against tyranny,” said Hansel, of Hansel Law in Baltimore. “This verdict sends the message that there will be severe consequences for violations of our constitutional rights.”
Daniel Karp of Karpinski Colaresi & Karp P.A. in Baltimore, a lawyer for the defense, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
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Lyles v. Blanco, et al.
Court: U.S. District Court in Greenbelt
Case No.: 8:15-cv-01056-PWG
Judge: Paul W. Grimm
Proceeding: Jury trial
Outcome: Verdict for plaintiffs for $500,000 in noneconomic damages and $1,600 in economic damages
Incident: April 14, 2012
Suit filed: April 13, 2015
Verdict: Aug. 15, 2017
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Cary Hansel and Justin Stefanon of Hansel Law in Baltimore
Defendants’ Attorney: Daniel Karp of Karpinski, Colaresi & Karp PA in Baltimore
Claims: excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecutione