Blind Man Wins Excessive Force Case Against Denver Police Officer
A federal jury Friday awarded a blind man $400,000 in a lawsuit filed after his head was slammed into a counter by a Denver police officer.
Philip White of Eagle sued Denver police Officer Kyllion Chafin and another officer over a May 22, 2012, incident at the downtown Greyhound Bus Terminal.
White, who was in Denver at a conference on technical advancements to assist the blind, was trying to return to Eagle when the incident unfolded, said his attorney, Darold Killmer.
White had planned to catch a bus to Vail and take a van to Eagle.
At the downtown station, White was told that the bus was full and he couldn't get on board. White wanted to discuss options with staffers at the terminal, but he eventually was told by a security guard that he was "trespassing" and he'd have to leave the terminal, according to court documents.
White declined to leave, and the security officer called police. Chafin was among the responding officers.
When he arrived, White was on his phone with 911, asking police whether they could help him.
White asked Chafin whether he could "touch" his badge, a blind man's way of verifying that Chafin was indeed a police officer.
Instead, he wrenched White's arms behind his back and pushed him forward, slamming White's head into a ticket counter, according to court documents.
Bleeding from the head, White was handcuffed and taken to the Denver jail. He was released about eight hours later, near midnight. No criminal charge was filed against White.
"We are very gratified that the jury recognized that Denver police Officer Chafin engaged in excessive force," Killmer said. "The police officer's aggressive, bullying response was inexcusable. He bloodied and brutalized an elderly disabled man who never in his 77 years had any run-ins with police."
The case, filed in U.S. District Court, went to trial Monday. The jury began deliberating Thursday and came back with a verdict Friday afternoon.
The verdict includes $100,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.
"We respect the court and we repect the jury's decision," said Sonny Jackson, a police spokesman. "We reviewed the case. We didn't find any violations of policy. We are always looking for ways to improve."
In 2008, Chafin was commended by the police department for his role in preventing an armed man from committing suicide.
White, now 80, is a retired public schools administrator who has a master's degree in education.
Blind Man Awarded $400,000 in Police Brutality Suit
DENVER — A Federal Court jury has awarded Philip White of Eagle/Vail $300,000 in punitive damages and $100,000 in compensatory damages, but the final total could be well over a half million dollars, in connection with a beating Denver Police gave the 77-year old blind man.
“Philip White missed his bus to the mountains, when he asked Greyhound staff for help in catching the next bus home, he was told by a security guard he was trespassing and had to leave the Greyhound Bus Depot,” said White’s attorney Mari Newman. “This is a Master’s Degree holder and long-time educator who was set upon with excessive force as police violated his civil rights, all over a bus ticket.”
White says when Officer Kyllion Chafin arrived at the depot, he didn’t care that White had actually called 911 seeking police help in the matter. Instead, White says he was "set-upon" by a security guard and the cop, when he asked the officer if he could "see" his badge, by touching it.
“He told me 'You aren’t touching me,'” said White.
The cop grabbed his arms, forcing them behind him, then cuffed him so tightly he suffered nerve damage in his fingers -- or eyes, for him. He was then slammed into the ticket counter leaving his head bleeding.
When Sgt. Bob Wykoff arrived, instead of trying to defuse the situation and offer the blind man help, without reading White his Miranda Rights, he began to video tape a bus station interrogation without White’s consent.
“I thought they would have killed me if they thought they could get away with it,” said White. “I always trusted cops, but now my confidence in them is shaken. I felt so bad I wanted to leave the USA.”
Newman says, “If Denver would use all the monies being paid out for illegal actions by police and sheriff’s deputies for better training, they could avoid huge lawsuits such as this one. But, for some reason instead of insuring officers really serve and protect, what citizens are left with is cops who manhandle and brutalize.”
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