Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lawsuit filed in teen beating case -
Kalamazoo (MI) WWMT

Video available by clicking post title.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (Newschannel 3) - A videotaped encounter between a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Officer and a teenager is now the basis of a $5 million lawsuit in Kalamazoo.

The video from May of 2008 shows Officer Derek Nugent ramming the boy's face into a wall, which knocked out his front teeth.

While Officer Nugent was suspended right after the incident, now the teen's legal guardian, Julia Frank and her attorney have filed a federal lawsuit against the city, the police department, and officer Nugent.

Frank and her attorney, Arnold Reed, say they feel they have to follow through with this lawsuit because there is no way to justify this level of brutality.

Since the incident happened back in May, Newschannel 3 determined that the teen has more than 20 open cases against him, many of them for violent crimes. However, he was diagnosed as mentally disabled six years ago, according to his guardian, and has never stood trial for the crimes.

So the question is, where are the parents, and why aren't they controlling their child? Newschannel 3 asked Julia Frank and her attorney that question Monday afternoon.

"I've been asking for help for Michael, and they keep telling me there's no funds," said Frank. "I'm not a psychiatrist, I don't specialize in that, and that's why I've been asking for the help for Michael."

Right now, the teen is receiving around-the-clock care at Edgewater, a mental health facility in Grand Rapids. Frank says the treatment is voluntary, but she would not say how she's paying for it.

Frank's attorney is working on a contingency bases, meaning if the teen doesn't win the suit, he gets nothing.

But Frank and Reed both say that they want it to be clear: the $5 million lawsuit is to punish KDPS for the physical abuse, and make to sure the teen gets the care he needs. None of the money will go to Frank herself.