FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FROM: STEVE MAGAS, The Bike Lawyer
TASERED CYCLIST SETTLES LAWSUIT
On August 19, 2008, bicyclist Anthony Patrick, from Huntington, West Virginia, was Tasered by Lawrence County, Ohio Deputy Charles Hammonds and Chesapeake Police Department Dennis Gibson. Patrick was riding his bicycle with another rider when Deputy Hammonds told Patrick to get off the road. Patrick told Hammonds he had as much right to be on the road as the deputy. A series of events unfolded thereafter which ended with Patrick be Tasered, arrested and charged with a series of “crimes” including “Riding a Bicycle on the Roadway,” resisting arrest, failing to obey a lawful order and other crimes.
Patrick retained a criminal lawyer and fought the criminal charges, filing a Motion to Dismiss. After a hearing at which Deputy Hammonds was the only witness, the court issued a written opinion holding that the Deputy’s order to stop was “unlawful” as Patrick had done nothing wrong. The court pointed out that cyclists have the right to use the roads and are permitted by law to ride side by side. While the court stated that cyclists should act courteously towards other traffic, cyclists riding two abreast do not legally have to move to a single file line or otherwise give way to motorized traffic and it was improper for Deputy Hammonds to order Patrick off the road. The Court also reaffirmed the landmark holding of Trotwood v. Selz, finding that a bicycle being operated at a reasonable speed for a bicycle is not “impeding traffic.” After the Court’s ruling in Patrick’s favor, the Prosecuting Attorney dismissed all charges against Patrick.
Steve Magas, The Bike Lawyer, represented Tony Patrick in a civil rights lawsuit filed against Deputy Hammonds, Officer Gibson, the Sheriff, the Police Chief and the City of Chesapeake in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Western Division. This case, Patrick v. Lawless, et al., included claims of excessive force, negligence, assault and battery, false arrest and false imprisonment, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants denied liability and discovery proceeded, including the taking of several key depositions, and it was learned that key evidence – including a videotape from the scene of the Tasering - had never been provided to Patrick’s criminal or civil lawyers.
All parties reported to the United States Federal District Courthouse in Cincinnati for a Settlement Conference with Judge Barrett on July 1, 2010. Following several hours of negotiations, a settlement was reached. While the settlement figure is confidential, Tony Patrick was very pleased with the outcome and feels justice was done.