It cost you $75 K ...BUT IT DIDN’T COST THE COPS A PENNY
Jury awards $75K to woman who sued PBSO over excessive force
By Kate Jacobson Sun Sentinelcontact the reporter
Jury rules in favor of woman who sued Palm Beach Sheriff's Office and former deputy over excessive force
The jury, which reached its verdict Friday, sided with Maria Paul, awarding her $75,000 on claims that former deputy Michael Woodside intentionally used excessive force, violated her civil rights and unlawfully caused her injury.
According to a lawsuit, Paul was pulled over twice by Woodside on Dec. 25, 2008 in Belle Glade. The first time she was cited for having a loud stereo system and no registration. She drove away from the traffic stop and Woodside followed her, the suit said, then he pulled her over again and said she peeled out.
Paul was removed from her car and was put in a choke hold, and then she was slammed into the ground. Once in the back of Woodside's vehicle, she was punched in the face, according to the lawsuit, which also named Sheriff Ric Bradshaw in his official capacity as the head of the agency.
"For my client, [the ruling] is a vindication that what she said was true," said Paul's lawyer, Ken Swartz. "It was a vindication on her part for a nightmare that she went through."
Woodside and his lawyer could not be reached for comment despite phone calls. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera deferred questions to the agency's legal department.
After her arrest, Paul was charged with resisting arrest with violence, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. In August 2009, all of those charges were dropped, records show.
Woodside was hired as a deputy in 2008 after serving as an officer in Jupiter. According to the lawsuit, Woodside was sued in federal court in 2007 for a false arrest.
While working at the Sheriff's Office, he had three use-of-force complaints in his file for his first year of work, according to the lawsuit.
Shortly after Paul's arrest, an internal affairs investigation began probing into whether Woodside and two other deputies who worked in the Belle Glade area were beating up people accused of crimes and bragging about it on the Internet, according to the lawsuit.
The investigation found Sgt. Brent Raban, Deputy Gregory Lynch and Woodside had violated rules and regulations, records show. Raban was demoted and Lynch and Woodside were fired in June 2009.
The internal affairs report showed Woodside made inappropriate comments online about people he had arrested, including one post where he bragged about roughing up a woman he arrested two weeks before he arrested Paul, according to the lawsuiy