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On August 9, a federal jury awarded Rodney Sawyer, a 33-year old African-American single father, $300,000.00 against Los Angeles Police Department Officers Navaro Alvarro and Luis Bonilla for an illegal detention and use of excessive force during a 2011 encounter which severely injured Sawyer’s right shoulder and wrist. Sawyer was represented by attorneys Rodney S. Diggs and Rickey Ivie of Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt.
LAPD officers detained Sawyer under the erroneous suspicion that he was attempting to break into a vehicle parked in front of his home. Sawyer was the registered owner of the vehicle. During the encounter, police officers grabbed, handcuffed and searched Sawyer without telling him why he was being detained. The officers used so much force that Sawyer will need to undergo orthoscopic surgery to repair the damage to his right shoulder and wrist.
The jury ultimately decided the LAPD officers’ actions during the incident were unlawful and violated Sawyer’s Fourth Amendment rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. The jury awarded Sawyer $300,000.00, including punitive damages.
When asked if he saw any similarities to the Trayvon Martin case, Mr. Diggs said, “it’s time for us all to take a hard look at the consequences of racial profiling and demand that law enforcement agencies around the country respect the rights of all Americans, regardless of color or class.”