FRESNO, Calif. (CN) - A sheriff's deputy on courthouse detail brutalized a 66-year-old attorney after finding a child's toy wrench in the purse of his client's family member, the attorney claims in court.
Richard Berman sued Fresno County, four of its sheriff's officers and the Judicial Council of California, in Superior Court. The individual defendants are Deputy T. Sink, Sgt. George Bertsch, Lt. John Reynolds, and Sheriff Margaret Mims.
Berman claims Sink manhandled him after ordering the client's family member to throw away the toy, and Berman told her she could take it back to her car instead.
The complaint states: "As Berman, his client, and her family member were in the process of going through the security entrance checkpoint, Deputy Sink detected a 1.2 oz. child's toy wrench that was found in Berman's client's family member's purse. Deputy Sink abruptly and unreasonably advised Berman's client's family member to throw away this toy.
"Knowing that his client's family member should not be required to dispose of her property, even if it was not going to be allowed in the courthouse, Berman instructed her to take the toy back to her car. As Berman was in the process of giving this instruction, Deputy Sink forcefully grabbed Berman and placed him under arrest. This arrest was made without probable cause and in retaliation for Berman's questioning Deputy Sink's authority and advocating for his client's family member's legal rights."
Berman claims Sink used unreasonable force against him, even though he told her repeatedly that he was recovering from a serious spinal injury. He claims Sink injured his "back, neck, arm and stomach/groin area."
"Berman, who was in severe pain, was then forced to sit handcuffed on a stool in the lobby of the criminal courthouse and was prohibited from communicating with another attorney or his client," he says.
Berman says he asked to see Sink's supervisor, Sgt. Bertsch, who approved of Sink's misconduct and "lectured and humiliated Berman before the observing public in the courthouse lobby. Deputy Bertsch also denied Berman's request that someone other than Deputy Sink escort him to a basement location where he would receive a citation."
Berman was never prosecuted for the incident, he says.
He seeks punitive damages for false arrest, excessive force, retaliation, battery, negligence, elder abuse and other charges.
He is represented by Kevin Little.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.