DENVER (CBS4) – Jurors in Denver awarded a big settlement to a blind man who claimed police brutality in an incident with officers at the Greyhound Bus terminal.
Surveillance video shows Philip White, who was 77 years old at the time, at the bus terminal in downtown Denver in May 2012 when an officer allegedly slammed his head into a counter. White is blind.
“I thought somebody was playing a joke on me. I really thought somebody set this up,” said White.
White told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia that when he showed up at the Greyhound Bus terminal, the bus home was already full. Security asked him to leave the terminal and that’s when police got involved.
A photograph of White taken after the confrontation with police shows a gash on his head after the officer allegedly slammed him into a counter in the terminal.
“I could feel the blood running down my face,” said White. “It felt like he was going to dislocate my shoulder. It really hurt.”
Officers charged White with criminal trespassing, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Those charges were later dropped and White filed a lawsuit claiming excessive force by police.
On Friday a federal jury awarded White $400,000, $100,000 for pain and suffering and $300,000 in punitive damages.
“This is an extraordinary misuse of power,” said White’s attorney Mari Newman.
Newman said White now suffers from nerve damage from being cuffed too tightly. That damage also makes it difficult for him to hold his cane.
“Denver law enforcement has lost track of its obligation to protect and serve when an elderly blind man who has called 911 for help is abused at the hands of a police officer,” said Newman.
In response, Denver Police Department released this statement, “We believe in the judicial process and respect the jury’s decision. The Department of Safety and the Denver Office of the Independent Monitor took part in reviewing the incident, and the Denver Police Department found that the officers’ actions fell within department policies. We are always looking for ways to improve.”