Personal Injury Attorney with Joyce and Reyes: Video Evidence Crucial in Plaintiff’s Case Against Tampa Police
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 3, 2014 - The City of Tampa, Florida, will pay $165,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from an arrest in 2010.
Jacob P. Cowie, 30, filed the suit against four Tampa police officers after sustaining injuries while being arrested following the Krewe of Sant'Yago Knight Parade in Ybor City. Cowie was charged with disorderly conduct, but those charges were later dropped.
“When someone alleges excessive force against law enforcement officers, it often means a long and difficult legal battle,” said Tampa personal injury attorney Robert Joyce, who is not involved in the case. “Law enforcement agencies typically face numerous lawsuit threats, and without solid evidence and expert counsel, the plaintiff's case often goes nowhere.”
Cowie alleged that police officers apprehended him when he came to the aid of a friend who was being ejected from a bar called Gaspar's Grotto. Officers said Cowie attempted to strike the first officer to grab him, which Cowie denied. That officer then forced Cowie to the sidewalk, at which point his face struck a metal bench on the sidewalk.
Officers said they kicked, punched and used a Taser on Cowie — who is deaf — because he would not stop resisting or let them see his hands. A bystander recorded the arrest with a cell phone, and that recording appeared to contradict the officers' account of the incident. In an order denying the city's motion to dismiss the case, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun III said that the video appeared to show Cpl. Joseph J. Reese holding Cowie's right arm even before the officers began striking him.
Cowie suffered three broken facial bones and a shoulder injury that required surgery and, he said, crushed his hopes of playing professional golf.
Reese and Officers Jayson G. Uriarte, Gregory Pryor and John R. Gustafson were cleared following an internal affairs investigation. The city maintains that the officers did nothing wrong, but city council members voted to approve the settlement in order to avoid the expense and risk of trial on December 19, 2013.
“The bystander's video of the arrest was surely crucial in this case,” attorney Joyce added. “Without it, I think the case may very well have been dismissed on the testimony of the officers.”
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
307 S Hyde Park Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
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