Lawyer says police violated man’s rights

By Josh Richman


OAKLAND – A San Leandro man who was awarded $196,000 by a jury for being battered and falsely arrested by a pair of Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies two years ago deserved more, his lawyer said Thursday.

The jury "should have found a civil rights violation, because they found battery and false arrest…which are violations of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure," said attorney George Holland of Oakland.

A civil rights violation finding would have entitled Richard Downing to additional damages, Holland said.

Attorney Clyde A. Thompson of Oakland, who defended deputies Richard Slofkofky and Herbert Walters against Downing’s lawsuit, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

An Alameda County Superior Court jury in the courtroom of Judge Richard Hodge found last week that Walters battered Downing and both deputies falsely arrested him Jan. 10, 1997, in an altercation outside of the Sheriff’s Department’s San Leandro substation.

Holland said Downing – himself a former deputy and police officer – had gone to the substation seeking an ambulance and help from deputies because he believed a young relative of his had been sexually assaulted.

But the deputies mistakenly believed Downing was under the influence of methamphetamine – a belief later disproved by urine tests – and was acting aggressively, so they handcuffed and arrested him Holland said.

The jury delivered its verdict last Thursday after about tow weeks of trial and two days of deliberations he said.