SAN FRANCISCO -- An appeals court has upheld a $250,000 award to a former Pittsburg man who was hospitalized for five days after officers used Tasers on him during a 2008 confrontation.
A federal jury awarded 46-year-old Frederick Jackson the money in 2010 after opining that three Pittsburg officers used excessive force when they simultaneously shocked him outside his home. The jury also found that Officer Gerald Lombardi retaliated against Jackson for hurling profanity at him but awarded no money in that verdict.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup overruled the excessive force verdict and applied the $250,000 award against Lombardi for violating Jackson's right to free speech.
Lombardi lost his appeal Friday. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also ordered that the city pay Jackson's court costs, reversing Alsup's decision.
"The 9th Circuit, once again, clearly got it wrong," said Peter Edrington, attorney for Pittsburg. "This case involved a rogue jury. In all my experiences in the federal courts, this verdict was the most unreasonable and unfair."
Police were called outside Jackson's former home on March 30, 2008, on reports of a mini-riot and a shirtless man with a knife. Jackson, a 300-pound, seven-time convicted felon, was shirtless but unarmed, when he was searched by a responding officer.
Jackson and his teenage daughter yelled and swore at the officers. Witnesses claimed Lombardi threatened to use his Taser on Jackson if he didn't keep quiet and then did so when he swore again. Edrington said those claims are false.
Lombardi and two other officers deployed their Tasers after Jackson allegedly elbowed his way out of a fourth officer's grasp. The shock caused him to fall on his face and break an orbital bone.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.