$4.5 Million Awarded in Custody Death

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Eureka Police Officers used excessive force in subduing a man who later died in custody, according to a federal jury, the Eureka Times-Standard reported.



     Officers Adam Laird and Justin Winkle were found to have used excessive force against Martin Frederick Cotton II, a few hours before he died in a holding cell in 2007; Also, they, and fellow officer Gary Whitmer, were found to have been “deliberately indifferent” to Cotton’s medical needs when they did not get him medical treatment before booking him, the paper reported.
     Cotton had been held in Humboldt County jail for seven days, on an outstanding warrant. After his release on Aug. 8, 2007, he was in fights at the Eureka Rescue Mission, to which the police were called. The police had said Cotton was combative and on a high dose of LSD when they tried to take him into custody, according to the newspaper’s report.
     Cotton was found breathing shallowly in his holding cell within hours of being booked. He died shortly thereafter, of blunt force trauma, according to the coroner, the Times-Standard reported.
     The jury awarded $4 million to Cotton’s daughter, and $500,000 to his father, and found Laird and Winkle to be personally liable for $30,000 each, and Whitmer, for $15,000, said the paper.
     The jury also found that the city had not adequately trained its police officers to make sure that arrestees who had had force used against them receive medical care before being booked, the paper reported. The Eureka Policy Department instituted a policy requiring medical care prior to booking, after the incident.

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