LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles jury today awarded $80,250 to a Gardena man who said a sheriff's deputy punched him twice in his cell at the Twin Towers jail, breaking his jaw.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for part of Friday afternoon and this morning before finding that Deputy Jay Brown used excessive force against 22-year-old Christopher Lee Wilder.
But the panel rejected Wilder's claim that Brown acted with malice, denying the plaintiff any chance for punitive damages.
Wilder maintained he was attacked without provocation on Feb. 28, 2010, for stepping through the open door of his cell to ask another jail employee if he could make a telephone call to his mother. He was arrested earlier that day on a drunken driving allegation.
Wilder said he was satisfied with the verdict.
"I'm pleased because it brought to light what happened to me in jail," he said.
Wilder said he had never been in custody before. He also said he paid a fine and took classes for the DUI case.
Wilder said the left side of his jaw was broken after being hit twice by Brown. He also alleged that the other side of his jaw was shattered when two female deputies slammed him against a wall while taking him to get medical treatment. However, the jurors were only asked to evaluate the conduct of Brown in considering their verdict.
Defense attorneys maintained Wilder stuck one foot in the doorway of the cell to prevent it from being closed by the jail employee to whom he requested permission to make the phone call. When told by Brown to step back from the cell door, Wilder raised his fists at the deputy, defense attorneys stated in their court papers.
Wilder spent a total of about 17 hours in jail, said his lawyer, Leo Terrell. The suit was filed in December 2010.