Retired soldier settles assault lawsuit against LMPD for $50,000
LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A lawsuit filed by a retired Kentucky National Guard lieutenant colonel claiming several Louisville Metro Police officers assaulted and wrongfully detained him in 2012 has been settled, with the city agreeing to pay $50,000.
Lt. Col. Donald Blake Settle was stopped by police as he was leaving Mid City Mall on Jan. 29, 2012 and asked for his identification. The stop escalated with one officer pulling a Taser and other officers forcing Settle to the ground, handcuffing him.
“I think he is glad to put this matter behind him,” said Thomas Clay, Settle’s attorney. “He was treated in a manner that was totally inappropriate.”
Jessie Halladay, a spokesperson for the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, which represented LMPD in the lawsuit, confirmed the settlement but declined to comment further.
Clay said Settle had stopped at the mall to get a birthday card for his wife when a police officer came up and asked him for his identification.
At the time, police said they believed Settle was a homeless panhandler because his clothes were dusty, he had difficulty speaking and he couldn't provide his address, according to a 2012 Courier-Journal story.
In an interview with the newspaper at the time, Settle, a Purple Heart and multiple Bronze Star recipient, said he had a poor memory and difficulty speaking as the result of injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, incurred in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan and a vehicle rollover.
When the officer asked for identification, Settle told the Courier-Journal he reached for his wallet, which he kept in his front pocket because he was wearing a cast on one arm, and the officer grabbed his arm and pointed a Taser in his face. Other officers arrived and Settle was taken down and handcuffed.
“If they had taken their time to verify his statements, this would have never happened,” Clay said on Friday.
His case, the newspaper reported in 2012, resulted in an internal police investigation, questioning from Fort Knox officials and a mandatory training program for police on how to deal with military veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Clay said that as far as he knows, none of the officers involved were disciplined.
“It’s hard for me to justify why the city would pay $50,000 if all of these officers were exonerated,” Clay said. “It calls into question the validity of the (internal) investigation.”
Alicia Smiley, a spokeswoman for police, confirmed the officers were exonerated but said any other comment on the suit would have to come from the county attorney's office.
The officers named in the suit were Trey McKinley, Benjamin Klingenfus, Donald Pugh, Jeremy Linton, English and Joseph Vidourek as well as Sgt. Kirby Shobe.
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