Grand Jury Decision In TPD Excessive Force Case May Have No Bearing On Possible Suit

Sep 20, 2013

A grand jury is set to decide next month if Tallahassee police used excessive force on a woman during an August DUI arrest. But, lawyers for the woman say the grand jury’s decision has no bearing on a potential civil suit against the city.

Criminal charges could be filed against the police officers who arrested Christina West, the intoxicated suspect who’s seen in dashboard camera video being pushed into a police car and to the ground, causing multiple broken bones. A Leon County grand jury of 20 people will decide whether the arresting officers were too violent with West.

“If they don’t decide there should be criminal charges, I suppose the officers go free and are not charged with any criminal offense. It doesn’t affect anything I’m doing,” said Fred Conrad.

Conrad is a lawyer for West and her family. He recently notified the city of the family’s intent to sue.

“We’re still in talks with our legal team and our clients as to exactly what we’re going to be filing. We hope it doesn’t get to that point. We’re hoping we can resolve this matter without the need to litigate, but if we need to litigate we’re certainly willing to do that,” he added.

“It’s also amazing to me that it seems to me that there are many people in the media, the public, and even friends of mind asking ‘How much do you want?’ Well, we haven’t even got to that question. First thing on my client’s mind is healing from her injuries.”

Conrad says they’re hoping for a resolution that includes a settlement and some changes at the Tallahassee Police Department. Meanwhile, interim police chief Tom Coe tells the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper his own review of the case doesn’t show “any criminal actions by the officers involved.” Conrad says that’s still up to the grand jury to decide.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.