A Buck a Slap? Louisville Police Officer Fined Just $2 For Striking Handcuffed Suspect

KY_-_Louisville_Metro_Police_BadgeIt appears that the thin blue line defense still works. A video recently showed Louisville police officer David Graham striking handcuffed John R. Sanders, 19. However, the jury that convicted Graham proceeded to fine him just $2 — $1 for each of the two charges.

Sanders was arrested on March 31, 2012, with another man and accused of punching, kicking and using pepper spray on a third person while taking an e-reader and other items. According to the charges, a videotape showed Graham handcuffing Sanders behind the back and then poking him multiple times in the throat and slapping him.

Graham avoided up to 12 months in jail on a misconduct charge and up to 90 days in jail for a harassment charge. Yet, First Assistant Jefferson County Attorney Julie Hardesty called the guilty verdict “significant.”

It is not clear if Graham, who has been with the department since 1999, will face disciplinary action.

Source: Kentucky

23 thoughts on “A Buck a Slap? Louisville Police Officer Fined Just $2 For Striking Handcuffed Suspect

  1. Even more so when you consider it was the American people that made this decision, NOT the police union.

    What goes unsaid is that the cop was probably not even personally responsible for the $2 but rather the tax payer.

  2. “Sanders was arrested on March 31, 2012, with another man and accused of punching, kicking and using pepper spray on a third person while taking an e-reader and other items.”

    Maybe the jury concluded that Sanders had impliedly consented to being slapped, based on his conduct.

    If person X goes around physically assaulting people, one could reasonably assume that person X has decided that physically assaulting people is an acceptable mode of conduct in our society.

  3. I don’t care what the prisoner was accused of; he was handcuffed when the officer hit him. What the jury did was send a message to officers that this type of behavior is OK with them. Of course, police officers don’t seem to be concerned about limits on their behavior but one would have hoped a jury would have reacted differently.

  4. “I don’t think cops need any excuses to assault people. They do it all the time regardless.”

    I completely agree, Inalienable. I’m just trying to come up with a plausible hypothesis for why the jury assessed only a buck a slap.

  5. Once a suspect is subdued, under control and in custody, his rights to safety from abuse are inviolate. The officers job is NOT to discipline them.
    …… I do not know if even today I am mature enough to be an LEO.
    The courts hand down discipline as guided by law.
    It must be frustrating to see scumbags treated with kit gloves by the courts at times. As one cop that had arrested a kid for burglary 2x told me.
    The catch and release policy of some judges creates job security for LEOs.
    PS. he was out on the street 12 hours after the arrest.

  6. Perhaps this officer is a graduate of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques program and the jury is made up of citizens who agree with Bush and Obama.

  7. […] while back, I wrote about why I think nominal damages are rather stupid. A recent story on the Turley blog demonstrates another problem with these damages: people don’t understand them. Turley’s […]

  8. A slap on the wrist for slapping a defenseless person. No surprise there. Yet if someone slapped a “cop” in self-defense, the person would be murdered. And the “cop” would STILL get only a slap on the wrist.

    Please remind me against why we’re not allowed to use synonyms for the suidae species when talking about “cops”.

  9. I found a website new to me yesterday. This is a little off topic, or spot on.
    I excerpted the section on submission expected by some Religions to Authority. I imagine if police officers have a similar attitude about their authority over citizens it may speak to the way a few, “or some” abuse their power.


    This above link is to a long article about a church and its’ accused abuses. I found this excerpt to be powerful, overwhelming, and perceptive.
    I highlight the first sentence below.

    “The larger context for corporal punishment is the belief that Christians must cultivate a lifelong attitude of submission to God-given authority”

    Me,… Or citizens must submit to state given authority ?

    Lifelong Attitude of Submission

    The larger context for corporal punishment is the belief that Christians must cultivate a lifelong attitude of submission to God-given authority. Parents are one such authority; male leadership over women in the family, church, and society is another.

    Both women and children are taught that submission is part of a divine plan that should be embraced joyfully, and that even submitting to abusive men is noble and Christ-like. CLC pastor Joshua Harris quotes 1 Peter on this score, praising slaves who obeyed the masters who beat them as following Jesus’ example. Harris interprets this to mean that all Christians are called to submit, even when “suffering” under “unjust” leadership. Therefore wives are called to resist the “sinful” impulse to “fight back” against or even criticize husbands who misuse their “authority.”

    These teachings are not unique to SGM. Evangelical leader John Piper—a friend to SGM—has taught that women must maintain attitudes of submission even toward abusive husbands. Wives may, he says, have to,“endure… being smacked one night” if abuse is “simply hurting [them]” and “not requiring [them] to sin” in some way like “group sex.”

    It’s such a romanticization of saintly submission in the face of violence that Harris’ exceedingly brief disclaimer that “this isn’t a call [for wives] to be on the receiving end of abuse and violence” (like Piper’s recent clarification of his remarks) comes across as hollow.

    If children are taught that assault is divinely sanctioned, and that their bodies belong to adults, girls in particular are trained to see their bodies as male property, starting with their fathers. These lessons come from the top. C.J. Mahaney and his wife Carolyn, herself a popular writer on “biblical femininity,” teach that every piece of clothing girls and married women purchase should be inspected for “modesty” by fathers. And Mahaney encourages his followers to confront girls and women in their congregations whose clothing they find immodest.

    Girls grow up under the sexualizing gaze of men who are free to comment on the sexual response female bodies “provoke” in them. This early training in feminine responsibility for the sexual response of men makes it difficult to recognize and name abuse, and causes further trauma with the implication that being a victim of sexual violence makes a woman “impure.”

  10. Bruce, I do not care what his crime was. We have rights for a reason.
    How can we expect to defend our Bill of Rights for the innocent if we are not willing to defend it for the PRESUMED guilty?
    This is why our rights are eroding by the day. Because we sacrifice it in irrational fits of rage to ‘get the bad guy’
    Then its used against us ALL.

  11. Article in the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper today:
    Louisville officer who slapped and poked handcuffed suspect guilty of misconduct, fined $2
    He’s convicted of hitting robbery suspect, fined
    Mar 8, 2013 |
    Written by
    Harold J Adams
    The Courier-Journal

    Local News

    A Louisville Metro Police officer convicted Friday of official misconduct and harassment for striking a handcuffed suspect multiple times was spared jail time and fined $2.

    Officer David Graham could have been sentenced to up to 12 months in jail or a $500 fine for the misconduct charge, and up to 90 days in jail or a $250 fine for the harassment charge, said Julie Hardesty, the first assistant Jefferson County attorney.

    Instead, a Jefferson District Court jury fined Graham $1 on each of the charges and imposed no jail time after a two-day trial before District Judge Don Armstrong.

    The charges filed against Graham last September stemmed from the March 31, 2012, arrest of 19-year-old John R. Sanders in a robbery case. Sanders and another man were accused of punching, kicking and using pepper spray on someone in Old Louisville while taking an e-reader and other items. That case is still pending.

    A witness videotaped Sanders’ arrest in the 100 block of West Oak Street.

    According to Graham’s court summons, he handcuffed Sanders behind the back, then poked him multiple times in the throat and slapped him, causing him to fall.

    Hardesty said neither the commonwealth nor the defense asked the jury for a specific penalty. But she said Assistant County Attorney Matt Golden did tell the jury that Graham “should be held accountable just as anyone else would be if it were a spouse who had abused a spouse or if it was a neighbor who had abused a neighbor.”

    Defense attorney Steve Schroering said Graham was disappointed that he was convicted but “thankful that the jury gave him the absolute minimum penalty.”

    Schoering said he would assume that the jury’s message in imposing the $2 fine was “that while he was technically wrong in his conduct, they forgave him under the circumstances.”

    He said those circumstances were that Sanders was charged with having committed “an incredibly violent robbery and Officer Graham … had a temporary loss of control that caused the suspect no injuries.”

    Hardesty, however, noted, “They did find him guilty.

    “That is very significant in that a police officer has been found guilty of violating the law,” she said.

    Graham, a Fourth Division officer who has been on the police force since 1999, could still face disciplinary action from the police department. Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said the officer remains on a paid administrative leave imposed last April pending the outcome of a continuing investigation by the department’s Professional Standards Unit.

    Reporter Harold J Adams can be reached at (502) 582-4646 or on Twitter @HaroldtheWriter

  12. Frank,

    Good to see you and thanks for the local flavor on the reporting. You know, I have to think this story is a two-edged sword. It’s been percolating in the back of my mind since this morning. On one hand, yeah, the jury did find him guilty and the perp suffered no real injury under circumstances that many people might have been tempted to just beat the crap out him. On the other hand, the lax fine and no jail time also fosters the image of favoritism and protection of the police when guilty of wrong doing. Did the officer deserve a year in jail for a technical violation where no real harm was done? No, I don’t think that would be just. But the $2 fine? Is not sufficient to bring it home to the officer that what he did was simply unacceptable. He should have gotten the maximum fines and no jail – possibly a suspension from work too – in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, favoritism and protection. That would have given the message that although there were extenuating circumstance and no actual harm came about that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated by officers going forward.

  13. He should have been fired, nothing less.

    How can you expect your rights to not be violated when we do not hold those accountable that violate others.

  14. This jury is probably dominated by those on the religious rightwing. As a group they are the most likely to defend authority, no matter how wrong authority might be. I am sure as a group they also detest the ACLU, that goes without saying.

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