NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana and Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP – on behalf of their client Mr. Timothy Watkins – and the City of Hammond, Louisiana, today reached a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by Tangipahoa Parish resident Timothy Watkins against the City and several Hammond police officers.
The case, Watkins v. Fox, et al., alleged that the City and the officers violated Mr. Watkins's civil rights by, among other things, using excessive force and disregarding his pre-existing injuries when he was arrested and handcuffed on charges that were later dropped. The complaint alleged failures by the City in training and supervision. The defendants have denied wrongdoing, and by agreeing to the settlement, do not admit liability or wrongdoing.
“Today's settlement resolves the pending claims asserted by Mr. Watkins," said ACLU of Louisiana Justice Lab Staff Attorney Bridget Wheeler. "We're hopeful that every law enforcement officer in Louisiana will view this lawsuit as a sign that civilian complaints about police violence must be taken seriously. We are pleased to take a small but significant step in that direction.”
"We're pleased to have obtained a positive result for Mr. Watkins in this lawsuit to uphold his civil rights," said Matthew Gurgel of Holwell Shuster & Goldberg. "We share the ACLU's goals of deterring the unreasonable use of force by police and ensuring that citizen complaints are heard, and are honored to have played a part in this important effort."
"The city was fully prepared to defend its actions and the actions of the officers which we believe were reasonable under the circumstances; however, after a mediation with the federal magistrate judge and consultation with the city's insurers, we are pleased to resolve this claim in an amicable manner and without further expense to the city," said Hammond City Attorney Andre Coudrain.
Watkins v. Fox, et al. was filed as part of the ACLU of Louisiana's Justice Lab initiative, an intensive litigation, advocacy, and organizing effort through which the organization is litigating 50 cases and appeals against police across Louisiana.