Civil Rights Litigation, Use of Force: News and Publications

$150K Settlement and Criminal Conviction for Excessive Use of Force by Lancaster, PA Sergeant

On March 8, 2014, an incident occurred that resulted in Steve Widdowson being arrested by Sgt. Ray Corll and charged with Public Drunkenness. During the course of the arrest, Sgt. Corll struck Mr. Widdowson. Widdowson’s friend, Tami Jones, was also cited and arrested for public drunkenness. Widdowson filed a complaint with the Lancaster Bureau of Police (LBP) alleging that the force used by Corll was excessive. The Lancaster Police Bureau investigated and concluded that Mr.

Record 1.6M Settlement for Mentally Ill Victim of Police Shooting in Texas

On Tuesday, September 22, the Dallas City Council approved a civil settlement in the amount of $1.6 million for Bobby Bennett, who in 2013 was shot in the stomach by Dallas police officer Cardan Spencer. The settlement is reportedly the largest the city has ever paid to a single litigant naming the police department as a defendant.

9th Circuit Rules That Police Who Recklessly Engage A Mentally Disabled Person Can Be Liable for Defensive Use of Deadly Force

NPAP member John Burris represented Teresa Sheehan, a mentally disabled woman living in a group home who was shot several times and nearly killed by San Francisco police who went to her room at the request of a welfare worker.  When the two officers first entered Ms. Sheehan's room, she threatened them with a knife, and the officers backed out, closed the door, and called for backup.  However, before backup arrived, the two officers drew their guns and re-entered the room.  When Ms. Sheehan again threatened to kill them with a knife, the officers opened fire, shooting Ms.

Plumhoff v. Rickard

NPAP and the Human Rights Defense Center submitted this amicus brief to the Supreme Court in favor of the the surviving minor child of Donald Rickard, who was killed by Arkansas police officers after a chase over state lines into Tennessee. The defendants, including the Arkansas officers, argue that the existence of video evidence of some of the chase and shooting serves to establish the facts of the case as undisputed and makes the reasonableness of the use of force purely a question of law.

The amici argue that the defendant/petitioner's position is an impermissible encroachment on the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Additional commentary on the case is available at, courtesy of JURIST.