GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina man who said he suffered major neck and spinal injuries after a police officer pushed him to a jail floor while he was still in handcuffs was given a $90,000 settlement.
The city of Greenville settled a March 2018 lawsuit filed by Bobby Falls against the city’s police department and county detention center last month, The Greenville News reported.
Falls was booked into the detention center in August 2016 for public intoxication after an officer, Lee Vartanian, approached him outside of a bar.
"The incident involving a Greenville Police officer and Mr. Bobby Falls in August 2016 was an unfortunate accident," said city spokeswoman Beth Brotherton. "The officer reacted in a fluid and dangerous situation as Mr. Falls resisted attempts to keep him under control.”
The city does not believe Vartanian did anything wrong, Brotherton added. The decision to settle the lawsuit and pay half of Falls' medical costs was made to avoid additional costs and a trial, Brotherton said.
According to Falls’ lawsuit, he was asleep on a bench when approached by police prior to his arrest.
The lawsuit claimed Falls did not show signs of aggression while he was intoxicated and when Vartanian forced him to the ground.
"Falls would require surgical placement of a halo device to immobilize his spine over the months that followed, and will require lifetime future care," the lawsuit said.
It also added Falls did not kick Vartanian, which Vartanian had previously claimed was the reason he forced Falls to the ground.
According to records, Vartanian resigned from the police department fully in 2017 and has not returned to law enforcement in South Carolina. He did not respond to requests for comment.
The public disorderly conduct charge against Falls was dismissed in January 2018.