City fights $1M payout to excessive force claimant

AUSTN (KXAN) — Less than two weeks after a federal jury agreed an Austin man should collect $1 million from the City of Austin for pain and suffering that followed his 2011 arrest, city attorneys filed a court brief hoping to avoid the entire payout.

The jury found Officer Eric Copeland and Officer Russell Rose violated Carlos Chacon’s constitutional rights to be protected from the use of excessive force during his arrest.

The jury also found Rose’s actions were unreasonable to the point that “no reasonable officer could have believed the use of force during the course of the arrest was lawful.”

The 26-page request for the judge to review his decision contends, “The verdict finding against Rose should be overturned because it is not supported by any evidence…Barring that outcome, the court should award a new trial on damages or reduce the jury’s damages award of $1 million to a nominal amount.”

“The size of this verdict indicates that the jury was motivated by passion and prejudice, not by the evidence,” the brief concludes.

Chacon was awarded $500,000 for physical pain and mental anguish suffering and $500,000 for loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.

Recently the City of Austin has been the subject of several substantial legal settlements including:

  • $780,000 in back-pay for 2012 Austin firefighter applicants as part of a consent decree (May 2014)
  • $1.25M for the children of Larry Jackson Jr., killed by APD Det. Charles Kleinert (Aug 2014)

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