Ex-Palmdale apartment manager wins punitive damages in case against Sheriff’s Department
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A former Palmdale apartment manager who said he was punched, kicked and pepper-sprayed without provocation in a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies received an additional $6,000 in punitive damages in addition to $575,000 awarded two days earlier by the same jury.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about one and half hours Friday before assessing the damages in favor of Noel Bender and against Deputy Scott Sorrow.
The panel concluded Wednesday that the 30-year-old plaintiff was a victim of false arrest, battery, Civil Rights violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jurors also found that Sorrow acted with malice, triggering the second phase of the trial to determine whether punitive damages should be assessed against him.
Two other deputies, Ray Hicks and Omar Chavez, were exonerated.
Bender filed suit last July over the Aug. 26, 2009, run-in with the deputies at the apartment complex he managed in Palmdale. He said the trouble began after he offered to clean up glass from a bottle broken by one of his tenants.
Bender also maintained that deputies had been harassing his tenants since one of their fellow deputies was shot in the shoulder outside the complex on July 12, 2009. The shooter was later arrested and did not live at the complex, according to the lawsuit.
Bender’s lawyer, Bradley Gage, said that in addition to being roughedup, his client—who like Sorrow is White—was called a “n-word lover” by Sorrow. Gage said the remark was in reference to the many Black residents of the 26-unit complex.
Defense attorney Harold Becks, who is Black, denied Sorrow was overly aggressive or that the deputy used racial slurs. He said Sorrow is married to a Black woman.
Sorrow had already responded to a previous call at the complex and deputies went there a total of three times that day, answering complaints that tenants were playing loud music, using drugs and drinking alcohol to excess, Becks said.
Bender was tried and acquitted of resisting arrest and no longer manages the apartment complex, Gage said.
A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday on the issue of whether a sheriff’s deputy acted with malice when he shot a 15-year-old boy who was holding what turned out to be a toy cap gun when he was wounded in Palmdale nearly four years ago.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige said he saw no point in requiring jurors to ponder the case further because they sent a note stating that they unanimously agreed further deliberations would be fruitless.
A 13-year-old student was expelled from school after her mother confronted the school’s principal about a teacher’s racial slur.
Through tears, Brea Persley, a student at Century Academy for Excellence in Inglewood, told her mother that her White science teacher, Kelly Dempsey, told her to “sit your nappy-headed self down” in front of the entire classroom.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—An Antelope Valley community group sued Lancaster and Palmdale officials today, alleging the cities engaged in practices meant to drive out Black and Latino residents.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of the Community Action League, the California State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and two unidentified residents who allegedly faced racial discrimination.
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which held meetings in Los Angeles City Hall last Thursday and in the Antelope Valley on Sunday, has a mandate is to redraw district lines, not to disrupt communities but to strengthen them. But how does the Commission accomplish its task when most community spokespersons appeared to be asking the body to maintain the status quo and keep their communities intact?
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. —Proverbs 26: 4-5