County Avoids Court, Settles Brutality Case By Drew Mackie – Staff Writer Tuesday November 5, 2002 Daily Nexus > News > Volume 83, Issue Number 31 Santa Barbara County will pay nearly $1 million to settle allegations that sheriff’s deputies beat two people in May of last year. The County Board of Supervisors made the decision at a meeting on Oct. 8; four supervisors voted in favor of settling with the suit’s plaintiffs, George Beeghly of Lompoc and David and Carina Richardson of Los Alamos. SB County Counsel Shane Stark said the $950,000 settlement – made in response to the alleged use of excessive force against two patrons of a Los Alamos bar, false arrest and imprisonment, unreasonable search and seizure, emotional distress and violation of civil rights – would prevent a costly trial. (Sound familiar? :cryptic – Whisper) “The county decided to settle because the possibility that we would be found liable, which would expose us to millions of dollars in attorney’s fees as well as potential damages, plus the unavoidable cost of trial made this a rational economic decision,” Stark said. The county’s insurance authority will pay $450,000 of the sum, while the county will pay the remaining $500,000. Although the amount is the largest paid by the Sheriff’s Dept. in the past 15 years, Stark said the county settles such matters when the financial risk of a trial is too costly. “We do settle cases when we make a decision that it will cost the county [less] to settle than it would to try it,” he said. “We tend to take civil rights claims to court; we don’t settle very many of them.” Jim Thomas, the sheriff at the time the incident occurred, said he did not agree with the board’s choice because the county would have been victorious in court. “I would not have settled,” he said. “I would have rather gone to court because I do not believe a jury would have found the deputies guilty of that kind of malfeasance.” Thomas is also running to replace present 3rd District Supervisor Gail Marshall if voters recall her in today’s election. Thomas said he doubts the incident will impact the election significantly. “I wasn’t at the Lariat when it happened. Anytime you’re the department head, you will get sued anytime anybody in your department gets sued,” he said. “It could have happened to Jim Anderson just as well as me.” Marshall’s campaign manager, Das Williams, disagreed. “I think it’s interesting that everything that happens [in the 3rd District] is Gail’s fault, but when something happens on [Thomas’] watch, it’s not the same case,” Williams said. “He wasn’t watching the level of brutality in his department. There are some good deputies in the Sheriff’s Dept., but there hasn’t been an internal investigation and there needs to be.” Thomas said the Sheriff’s Dept. could not conduct an internal investigation as Beeghly and the Richardsons refused to cooperate. “You can’t really do an investigation if one side won’t talk to you,” Thomas said. “They wouldn’t talk to us until the checks were signed.” :nav Source: http://www.ucsbdailynexus.com/news/2002/3813.html

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