Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Appeal requested in lawsuit involving Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was scheduled to be the subject of a hearing inside an Atlanta courtroom Wednesday following an appeal request in a 2008 lawsuit claiming the agency tolerates use of excessive force among its deputies.

The original lawsuit stems from a 2004 brutality case involving former Pinellas deputy Richard Farnham, accused of kicking and Tasering Dan Thompson while in Santa Rosa County for Hurricane Ivan relief. The Sheriff's Office cleared him of wrongdoing in 2005, but Farnham was later indicted and sentenced to one year in federal prison for violating Thompson's civil rights.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office and Farnham were defendants in the lawsuit, but Santa Rosa eventually settled with Thompson, and Farnham filed for bankruptcy.

In February 2012, a judge dismissed the Pinellas Sheriff's Office from the lawsuit when evidence presented by plaintiff attorneys was not enough to prove a "widespread and persistent policy of tolerating the use of excessive force," court records show.

The judge "was critical of our evidence that we only had multiple allegations about one single officer," said Keith Weidner, Thompson's attorney.

In January, Weidner filed a notice of appeal in the 11th circuit court. Among the arguments he will present Wednesday includes case law that finds the Sheriff's Office's response to Farnham's actions is enough to reflect a larger problem within the agency.

"It's not the quantity of evidence," Weidner said. "It's the quality of evidence."

But Sheriff's Office general counsel Shannon Kennedy argues in court documents that the department has several procedures to keep employees accountable, evidence that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri "is not indifferent to the use of force by his deputies."

The Sheriff's Office declined comment, citing the case is ongoing.

After oral arguments Wednesday, it may be several months before a panel of judges decides whether or not the case will be presented to a jury, Weidner said.

Contact Laura C. Morel at lmorel@tampabay.com or (727)445-4157.

Appeal requested in lawsuit involving Pinellas County Sheriff's Office 10/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 12:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]
  2. Florida taxpayers to shoulder $1.1 million in legal fees over 'docs vs. glocks' law

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida will pay $1.1 million in legal fees to attorneys who challenged a controversial state law that sought to prevent doctors from asking patients about guns, a group representing opponents said Monday.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed the 2011 law after it "was approved by a large, bipartisan majority in the Florida Legislature," a spokesman said Monday.
[Photo by Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  3. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa

    Stage

    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Daniel Lipton became the artistic director and conductor of Opera Tampa in 2012. Lipton replaced the opera's only previous director, Anton Coppola, who retired. [Times file (2012)]
  4. Two Ricks deliver video to AARP voter guide

    Blogs

    Last week, AARP Florida was a little ticked off that neither Mayor Rick Kriseman or former mayor Rick Baker had delivered video responses to a voter education campaign.

    The two Ricks have delivered their AARP videos
  5. Throwback Tampa Bay station 102.9 goes from R&B jams to WFLA-AM's conservative talk

    Blogs

    Talk radio station WFLA-AM (970) began simulcasting on 102.9 FM in the Tampa area this morning. 

    Tampa's 102.9 is going from Throwback Tampa Bay to WFLA-AM's news radio.