Boston settles police brutality case for $1.4 million

The city of Boston paid $1.4 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit our firm brought on behalf of Mike O’Brien, a victim of police brutality. In addition, one of the police officers sued, Officer David Williams, was fired for using unreasonable force on our client and then lying about his use of excessive force. (Williams was fired years earlier for participating in the police beating of a plainclothes officer who was mistaken for a murder suspect in 1995. He won his job back after an arbitration.) Check out this Boston Globe article about the settlement.

Our client worked as a corrections officer for the Middlesex County Sheriff’s department. The incident took place in the early morning of March 16, 2009. Mr. O’Brien was with two friends in Boston’s North End. One of Mr. O’Brien’s friends accidentally sideswiped a double-parked car while backing out of a parking space. Two Boston police officers arrived for this minor motor vehicle accident. Mr. O’Brien felt the officers were hostile to him and his friends but seemed friendly towards the other driver. Mr. O’Brien began recording the officers with his cellphone video camera.

Officer Nguyen took the phone from Mr. O’Brien’s hand. Officer Williams slammed him to the ground. Mr. O’Brien ended up face down on the sidewalk with Officer Williams on top of him. Officer Williams placed Mr. O’Brien in a chokehold. Finally, other officers arrived and Williams released the chokehold. While the officers were handcuffing Mr. O’Brien, they struck him in the head.

Mr. O’Brien went to Mass General Hospital from the police station. The medical examination showed signs of choking. More troubling, a CT scan revealed slight swelling and bleeding in his brain. He suffered a brain injury that has left him with memory problems, dizziness and headaches. Three years later, Mr. O’Brien still suffers from the effects of this incident.

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