Assaulted Walmart Greeter Sues Police Officer and Chattanooga Police Department

cpdbadge_current_jpegThere has been general outcry after the Chattanooga Police Department refused to charge Officer Kenneth Freeman with assault after he knocked down a seventy-one-year old Walmart greeter and threw another man through a glass door. Now, Bill Walker, 71, is suing Freeman and the police department for $21 million.

Walker says that he was assaulted by Freeman on Christmas Even when he asked to see the officer’s receipt. When Freeman did not stop, he touched his arm and Freeman allegedly hit Walker. When a good samaritan tried to intervene, Walker says that Freeman shoved him through a glass door.

The police department refused to charge Freeman and merely suspended him for 28 days for conduct unbecoming an officer, execessive use of force and improper procedure.

Now, the department itself may have to pay for its employment and treatment of Walker. This is an example of how such civil lawsuit can play a needed role of deterrence in the absence of responsible conduct by department like the Chattanooga Police Department. Perhaps a degree of civil liability will instill a greater sense of responsibility for the department.

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9 thoughts on “Assaulted Walmart Greeter Sues Police Officer and Chattanooga Police Department

  1. I wonder if this will change any police behavior, as they seem to consider themselves victimized by complainants, who are always embarrassing them by pointing out how many times they’ve allegedly screwed up by either going too far in apprehension or too little ignoring the small stuff such as abandoned cars or by not wearing seat belts. They tend to be self-righteous and above the law, part of a tight-knit brotherhood of ignorance. Just my observation over the years.

  2. This is when I really wish the Dept. heads had to pay part of the settlement from their own pockets. I see this stuff all the time. Supervisors are rarely punished for knowingly allowing the most egregious behavior to continue. They need to feel a financial pain as well–then they will take abuses in the workplace very seriously.

  3. FFLeo,
    You raise a valid point. Clearly even $10 million dollars worth of damage wasn’t done and the LEO should lose his job. As a non-lawyer it seems to me that the idea is that that if the punishment for egregious government behavior is large enough, it will encourage government or corporate entities to reform themselves. Also too, the promise of large fees would encourage lawyers to take on these cases against larger, richer entities. When it comes to corporate reform I think the jury is still out about the effectiveness of the tactic.

    When it comes to government reform, I think it doesn’t work to change anything. Even if Chattanooga is forced to lay out $10 mil, past history has I think shown that reform will not result, nor will the officer be dismissed. While it should be every citizens right to sue, I think we need to come up with more creative ways to curb government excess than torts. On a personal level though I’d like to see the old guy get his $10 mil just as an object lesson, even though I don’t think it will go far to convince voters that a change in PD behavior is needed.

    You and I, having worked in bureaucracy are probably both aware of how a loss of the suit would generally be handled. A procedure would be written, required training would take place and with the wink of top grade leaders eyes, the grunts would know nothing has changed.

  4. Mespo et al.

    I am sure many nonprofessionals have pondered why PI attorneys and others always seem to ask for astronomical amounts of compensation in cases such as this. Is it a case of “well, it doesn’t hurt to ask for the moon and we will accept what we get, maybe 1/2 of the $21 million or less? Please explain the legal reasoning here. No life was lost and a 71-year-old man could never have made that much money in his lifetime of work.

    I am for this man suing the Department and I want the LEO to lose his job and perhaps receive a criminal charge; however, law-abiding citizens will pay the real tab for the officer’s ill-tempered actions and the Department’s failure to punish him properly.

    Thanks.

  5. Ok so, I think $21 million is a bit much but I agree that this is an excellent example of the propper use of a tort.

  6. Thank God for Torts Law. Let’s hope that the inroads made to limit it won’t preclude a rational judgment in this case.

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