Pro-life youth roughed up by cops get $225K settlement
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA May 3, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of young, peaceful pro-life protesters who were harassed and assaulted by campus police officers at a California college have won a $225,000 settlement.
The suit was filed in October 2009 against several Chaffey College Campus police officers, on behalf of a group of young pro-life activists.
The settlement was announced yesterday by Life Legal Defense Foundation, and includes payment to the plaintiffs for both monetary damages and their attorneys’ fees.
Joey Cox, Jason Conrad, and James Conrad, young members of the pro-life organization Survivors, were arrested during a campus outreach at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga in November 2007.
According to an account of the arrests in the Survivors’ winter 2007 newsletter, Cox was handcuffed without warning after questioning an order from the police that the 8 members of the pro-life team all stay within a tiny area of the public quad where they were set up.
The police reportedly flung him to the ground, after which one officer dug his knees into Cox’s back and put his pull weight on him.
After the police confiscated Cox’s voice recorder and ejected him from campus, the other two young men went to question the police about their treatment Cox, and to retrieve his voice recorder.
At that point they were both handcuffed. Jason was reportedly handcuffed to a pole in a dark bathroom, and had his head slammed against a wall by an officer after he tried to answer his cell phone. James was similarly manhandled.
After that the team members were held in jail for three days.
Cox was charged with causing a campus disruption and unlawfully recording a confidential conversation. All charges against Cox were dismissed on the eve of trial after the court of appeal agreed with his attorneys that the police unlawfully arrested him and illegally seized his tape recorder.
Jason and James Conrad were charged with disturbing the peace and obstructing a police officer. However, a unanimous jury acquitted the Conrads of all criminal wrongdoing in May 2009, largely on the weight of video evidence showing their mistreatment at the hands of the police.
LLDF said that the young men felt “vindicated” when they learned that the Chaffey Police officers offered to settle the matter, including paying their attorneys’ fees.
“This case shows that the pursuit of justice may be a long battle, but the freedom to peacefully speak the truth about abortion on a public college campus, without fear of recrimination and police abuse of authority, is a right that we at the Life Legal Defense Foundation will relentlessly seek to protect,” stated Dana Cody, Executive Director of LLDF.
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