Statement as issued Friday by the Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – A jury needed less than 20 minutes to deliberate Thursday before returning a verdict in favor of an Indiana State Police trooper and Allen County jail officers in a federal lawsuit that a suspect had filed over his arrest and booking at the jail. The jury rejected the plaintiff’s claim of excessive force and awarded him no damages.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office defends police officers sued when acting within their official duties. The AG’s Office represented Indiana State Police Trooper Matthew Teusch in the civil lawsuit heard by a jury during a three-day trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana before Judge Theresa Springmann.
“Defending law enforcement officers who properly carry out their duties arresting and booking suspects from false and sometimes frivolous allegations from plaintiffs seeking monetary damages from taxpayers is a role that I take very seriously. Our police should know that the Office of Attorney General will defend them from these lawsuits, and potential plaintiffs should know the likelihood that juries will award them nothing,” Zoeller said.
The plaintiff, Anthony C. Martin, now 33, was arrested September 10, 2009, following a traffic stop by Trooper Teusch in which marijuana was found in Martin’s vehicle, according to court documents. As Martin was booked in to the Allen County jail and searched by the trooper, more marijuana was found hidden in a plastic bag in Martin’s pants. Martin later filed suit against the trooper and four Allen County jail officers, claiming an illegal search and excessive force, which the State vigorously denied.
After hearing three days of testimony during the civil trial in Martin’s lawsuit, jurors in less than 20 minutes returned a verdict in favor of the trooper and the officers and against Martin. Martin separately had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana charges.
Zoeller commended Deputy Attorney General Don Hostetler and Deputy Attorney General Jefferson Garn of the AG’s Litigation Division for their legal representation of the Indiana State Police trooper in the federal lawsuit that culminated in a successful verdict for law enforcement.