Man settles with state in trooper prisoner-abuse case

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2007

ANCHORAGE - A Bethel man has won $575,000 from the state in a settlement over claims he was repeatedly tortured and brutalized while in the custody of Alaska State Troopers.

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Kevin Patrick was arrested near Bethel in December 2002, accused of assaulting a village police officer with a shovel, escaping from a holding cell during a bathroom break and driving drunk on a snowmobile. Patrick said he was Tasered several times by Trooper Eric Spitzer after he was handcuffed, said his attorney David Henderson.

"This has been a five-year battle with the state, and finally Mr. Patrick is getting some justice for what happened to him," Henderson said in a written statement.

Troopers have said they thought Patrick was suicidal and armed with a gun.

The state Department of Public Safety said the trooper acted properly and in line with his training when he tried to subdue Patrick.

A Bethel jury, however, awarded Patrick $1.08 million in damages in 2004 after deciding Spitzer used excessive force and injured Patrick.

Patrick said the trooper used the Taser seven times while he was handcuffed. Spitzer said he used it only four times, all before Patrick was handcuffed.

The jury's verdict was appealed by the state to the Alaska Supreme Court. That appeal was still pending Tuesday when the state agreed to settle the case.

The decision to settle was to avoid the expense and time of fighting the case further, troopers said.

"This settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of the state or trooper Spitzer," troopers said in a news release.

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