If your job as a paralegal includes repossessing cars for your employer, no doubt it’s a challenge under normal circumstances. But if you get pulled over by an LAPD officer while driving a lawfully repossessed vehicle, wrongfully reported as stolen, and then when you offer to get the paperwork out of your briefcase to show you’re not a car thief, the officer grabs you and handcuffs your wrists so tightly that you sustain nerve damage, those circumstances are inexcusable.
That’s what a federal jury said in Taylor-Ewing v. City of Los Angeles et al, CV 07-5556 GHK – that Tesha Taylor-Ewing’s constitutional and civil rights were violated in April 2006, when Officer Jose Castaneda clamped on the cuffs “in an improper and excessively tight manner” despite her cries of pain – which he ignored for half an hour. In an unanimous verdict, the jury awarded Taylor-Ewing $160,000 in compensatory damages.
One of Taylor-Ewing’s attorneys, V. James DeSimone, said, “The jury’s verdict restored my client’s faith in the system after the officer ignored her cries of pain for thirty minutes and the LAPD investigation concluded the incident never happened. The system worked and justice prevailed!”
The jury was clearly convinced the incident did happen, and the verdict will hopefully send a strong message to the law enforcement community that this kind of treatment is beyond unacceptable. Of course, I do not know what evidence was presented at trial. Still, I can’t help but wonder if Taylor-Ewing, a legal professional, would have been treated so roughly over a stolen vehicle check had she not been an African-American female.
Taylor-Ewing is pictured with her attorneys, V. James DeSimone and Genie Harrison.