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Jury clears officer of excessive force, rules former officer must pay compensation & damages

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A jury in a federal civil lawsuit against a Beaumont Police Officer and a former officer has found that one of the two men used excessive force while making an arrest.  The decision was announced Monday before U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

The case stems from the August 24, 2007 traffic stop and arrest of Derrick Newman.  Dash-cam video of the arrest shows Newman being struck numerous times.

The jury cleared Officer Cody Guedry, but decided that former Officer Todd Burke must pay Derrick Newman $30,000 in compensation and another $10,000 in punitive damages.

The defense called several witnesses to the stand last week, including Guedry and Burke.

All of the other witnesses called by the defense were affiliated with the Beaumont Police Department. Some of the officers were at the traffic stop in 2007, others were expert witnesses who analyzed the video.

Officer Burke claimed he did not hit Newman thirteen times like the video shows because a few of the blows hit the patrol car. He also said he thought Newman was reaching for a weapon which is why he hit him with the baton. Burke also admitted saying "I would have split him," but didn't specify what that meant.

Newman's attorney Langston Adams pointed out that Burke never mentioned he thought Newman might be carrying a weapon in his 2007 report or his 2010 deposition. That ended with Burke calling Adams a liar.

Officer Guedry said he shocked Newman twice because he would not comply once he was on the ground. He addressed dragging Newman on the pavement and said he realizes he should have helped him up but says it has made him a better officer.

Adams finished with pointing out that all charges against Newman of resisting arrest were dropped.

Adams also verified that Newman is seeking damages for medical bills, lost wages, as well as physical and mental pain and suffering. He said the excessive force charge they're going for is a violation of civil rights which is why it's being handled in the federal court.

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