On Wednesday, a jury in Los Angeles County Superior Court awarded Allen Harris, 56, almost $1.6 million after finding that an LAPD officer had used excessive force against the partially paralyzed man, and had caused nerve damage while handcuffing him too tightly.
Remarkably, after returning to court on Thursday, the jury ordered the officer, Alex Tellez, to personally pay an additional $90,000 after finding “clear and convincing evidence” that he had acted with malice towards Harris.
The disturbing thing with the trial was that none of the 10 LAPD officers on trial, ever admitted handcuffing Harris, or admitted that the stroke victim was disabled in any manner during the encounter. Los Angeles Times reports one juror remarking after the trial, “It was completely unbelievable to us that out of 10 officers, no one remembered anything.” The juror said, “They were clearly just closing ranks … It felt untruthful to us.”
The incident occurred in November 2009 when the LAPD was investigating an armed robbery at a store where one of Harris’s sons worked. The LAPD obtained a warrant to search the apartment Harris shared with his son. When they visited the apartment, Harris’s son answered the door and was taken into custody. Then the officers walked into the apartment and ordered Harris to put his hand up and walk backwards towards the officers.
Harris put his right arm up and said that he was unable to follow instructions as he was semi-paralyzed – the LAPD officers rushed him, clamped a handcuff on his left wrist, dragged him out of the apartment, wrenched both of his arms behind his back and handcuffed him.
Doctors testifying on both sides admitted that nerve damage and other injuries caused to Harris was caused by the handcuffing, and made Harris’s hand further disabled.
Harris’s son was not charged, as he was not related with the robbery.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he was “disappointed by the verdict and the monetary award” and will support an appeal by the city attorney’s office.
The juror Chavkin told LA Times on the order to officer Tellez for personally paying $90,000: “we needed to send a message that this is not right – don’t ever do this again. We felt there needed to be a consequence for him disregarding Mr. Harris’ pleas.”
The news was reported by LA Times on Friday.