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Police Abuse, Excessive Force and Hobbles

County Liable for $1 Million for Sheriffs' Use of "Hobble" Restraints During Arrest

SAN RAFAEL, CA -- September 15, 2006 -- Marin County has settled a wrongful death lawsuit by paying almost $1 million to the family of a man who died two days after he was arrested. The settlement is believed to be the largest police misconduct settlement against the Marin County Sheriff's Department and one of the largest in California involving an in-custody death.

Sheriffs had put 47-year old Cary Grime in a "hobble," a restraining device that shackles handcuffs to ankle restraints behind the back. Also known as "hog-tying," hobbling can be painful and may limit breathing. Amnesty International calls hog-tying "a particularly dangerous and potentially life threatening procedure, especially if the subject is in a prone position."

Cary Grime became unconscious while in the county jail. He was eventually taken to the hospital where he died two days later. Besides bringing a lawsuit for wrongful death, Mr. Grime's family charged that his civil rights were violated and that the police lacked probable cause to arrest him. The Marin sheriffs used excessive force and improperly applied maximum physical restraints, according to the plaintiffs. In addition, the sheriffs failed to take Mr. Grime to a medical facility for clearance before placing him in a jail cell.

"The Marin Sheriff's Department must be accountable for the lethal use of unnecessary and unapproved restraint devices," commented David Anderson, counsel for the plaintiffs. "Sheriffs can't simply purchase equipment and use it without proper training. The Marin Sheriff's Department did not purchase hobbles, but it knew that deputies were buying and using them. It did not prohibit hobbling nor provide proper training in how to use these potentially deadly restraints."

The case was Liza Grime et al. v. Marin County Sheriff's Department, United States District Court, Northern District of California, No. C 04 2507 MMC. David Anderson in Novato, California, and Andrew Schwartz in Walnut Creek, California, represented Cary Grime's spouse, Liza Grime, and their children. Robert and June Grime, Cary Grime's parents, were represented by the law firm of Brayton Purcell, also in Novato.

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