Settlement reportedly reached between police department and latest victim claiming excessive force

By Gary Scott on February 4, 2015 at 2:04pm

March 2012 file photo of a protest outside the Morgan County Courthouse a month after the Robert Black incident.

Attorneys for a Jacksonville man who filed suit against the city claiming excessive force by police in federal court say a settlement has been reached.

Thirty-one-year-old Robert Black filed the suit almost a year ago to the date. He was arrested in February 2012 for resisting a peace officer, disturbing the peace and public intoxication outside Good Time Doc’s.

Black’s attorneys claim he and a friend were told to leave the area after walking up to police who were interviewing a female friend.

After leaving, the suit states a box of gum was thrown to the ground, after which policemen Brian Baptist and Gabe Looker chased after Black, was grabbed by them and violently slammed to the ground.

The suit claims Black suffered ear injuries and a broken vertebrae, and claims the city used “excessive and unreasonable force” in arresting him. Black’s attorney Louis Meyer says a settlement has been reached, but he’s still working to file stipulation to dismiss the case.

Meyer didn’t release the amount of compensation Black will receive in the deal, but he says there’s no admission of liability as part of the deal. He said he’s pleased with the settlement, which was executed in the last several weeks.

Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens talks about the settlement.

“It’s happened before, and I’m sure it’s going to happen in the future- the attorneys weigh in and decide that it’s going to cost us x-number of dollars to fight this, or we can settle it for a lot less, and what are they going to do? The insurance companies who hires the attorneys to make these decisions go with what typically is the better route for them, and that is to settle the case,” states Grootens.

“Not in all cases, but in a lot of these cases, that’s what happens.”

Grootens notes the two officers involved were cleared by the police department and the FBI. He maintains his officers did nothing wrong in the incident.

“Their training is updated yearly, so as far as the use of force is concerned, they’re trained well,” he says.

On Tuesday, Black was sentenced to two days in Morgan County Jail for resisting a peace officer. The sentence was part of a deal in which Black pleaded guilty.