Orange County Pays $750,000 Personal Injury Settlement for Inmate Lawsuit
Orange County chose to settle an injury lawsuit that was brought by a former county jail inmate who claimed he was Tasered and slammed to the floor by sheriff’s deputies while he was in handcuffs.
According to the L.A. Times, Matthew Fleuret received $750,000 injury settlement from the county. The incident which sparked the legal action was captured on video.
County supervisors representing the area approved the expenditure, and the amount was paid to Fleuret at the beginning of March, according to a spokesman who offered a statement on behalf of the county’s chief executive officer.
The lawsuit was filed after Matthew Fleuret was arrested in March 2006 on Saint Patrick’s Day after officers believed he was obstructing a deputy after he had gotten into a fight. Fleuret was not prosecuted after the arrest.
Videos of the arrest surfaced afterward and depict Fleuret being held on the floor by at least five deputies while in a holding cell at the Orange County Jail. Another deputy was holding Fleuret’s arms behind his back while he was repeatedly shocked with a Taser over the course of about 13 minutes, according to the L.A. Times.
Fleuret’s lawyer said he was shocked 11 times. Within the official sheriff’s report of the arrest, deputies claim that Fleuret was drunk and not cooperating with law enforcement.
The Fleuret incident came at a time when the Orange County Sheriff’s Office was dealing with other accusations of corruption and regular police brutality.
Former Sheriff Michael S. Carona resigned in 2008 while the department was in the midst of backlash after a prison inmate died in 2006 after being severely beaten by other prisoners near the prison guard station.
Furthermore, a 2008 grand jury report described the deaths of two other inmates after they were both Tasered as a “cause for alarm.” Within the same report, it was recorded that 437 inmates were shocked with Tasers by prison guards between 2004 and 2007, according to the L.A. Times.
Following Carona’s resignation, Sandra Hutchins took the helm and began making changes in the department, according to Assistant Sheriff Tim Board.
“She has done a lot, she absolutely understands systems of accountability and risk management,” Board said. “We're essentially a completely different department since 2006.”
Board said since Hutchins took over, the use-of-force policy was reviewed and brought up to more current standards, including a new 16-hour training session.