Vallejo to pay $750,000 to finish lawsuit over handyman crushed bloody, choked by police

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A handyman who was left bloodied after he was beaten and choked by Vallejo police will receive $750,000 from the city, it was announced Friday.

The San Francisco Bay Area city agreed Thursday to settle a civil rights lawsuit filed by Carl Edwards over the 2017 incident, which was recorded by a witness and by a police officer’s body camera.

The lawsuit named the city, three police officers and a former officer.

An email seeking comment from the city after hours Friday wasn’t immediately returned.

Edwards was fixing his fence on July 30, 2017, when he was grabbed and tackled by officers, punched repeatedly in the head, kneed and twice placed in a now-banned neck hold that caused him to briefly pass out, said a statement from his attorney, Michael Haddad.

Edwards suffered a broken nose and a shoulder injury.

“I couldn’t believe it when all of a sudden I was being choked,” Edwards, 53, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “When I heard more sirens coming, I thought, ‘Thank God, these guys are going to tell these guys to back off.’ And they just jumped in.”

A neighbor had called the police about a man shooting rocks with a slingshot at her two boys. But arriving police were told Edwards wasn’t the man and his clothing and description didn’t match those of the suspect, said his lawyer’s statement.

Edwards was charged with resisting arrest and other criminal counts. But after 14 months, the charges were dismissed by the Solano County district attorney for lack of evidence, the Chronicle said.

Edwards told the newspaper that he plans to leave the city soon.

“I’m moving. I gotta get out of here,” he said. “I’m gone.”

Last month, Vallejo’s City Council proclaimed a public safety emergency declaration allowing staff to bypass normal channels to push through police reforms. It also passed a broader reform proposal.

The city of 120,000 people faces “a crisis of legitimacy and trust” that demands emergency action, city spokeswoman Christina Lee said before the meeting.

Police face mounting criticism and fiscal liability over shootings and misconduct by officers. Two dozen federal civil rights cases and more than a dozen tort claims are pending that could cost the city $50 million as well as higher insurance premiums, Lee said.

In September, Vallejo agreed to pay $5.7 million to the family of a man who was shot and killed by an officer after he was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. In June, 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed by the officer who thought he had a gun when he did not.

Earlier this year, the police chief announced he was launching an independent investigation after two people in the department said officers had their badges bent to mark on-duty killings.

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