SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Tuesday, October 11, 2022)— A jury reached a unanimous $5 million verdict today against San Diego County and its Sheriff's Department in a federal civil rights trial involving allegations of excessive force and negligent supervision within the organization.
The case of Mickail Myles vs. the County of San Diego and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (Case no. 3:15-cv-01985-JAH-BLM) stemmed from a September 5, 2014 incident that resulted in the plaintiff being beaten by a Sheriff's deputy and bit by a K-9 while handcuffed and restrained by two other Sheriff's deputies.
The plaintiff, Mickail Myles, who is Black, lived with his family in the predominantly white suburb of Fallbrook, worked as a preschool teacher at nearby Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, and was a part-time college student. Deputies pulled over Myles while driving with his younger brother just blocks from their house after neighbors called 911 to report a doorbell ditch and possible car tampering.
During the traffic stop, San Diego Sheriff Deputy Jeremy Banks beat Myles in the back of the head and then ordered his German Shepherd to attack. After the attack, the deputies arrested Myles despite neighbors exonerating him --and the fact that authorities had detained another suspect who fit the description. The neighbors described the suspects as being young Hispanics.
The trial also focused on the Sheriff's Department's attempts to conceal and suppress evidence of a pattern and practice of excessive force by Deputy Banks.
Before the trial started, U.S. District Court Judge John Houston sanctioned San Diego County for “acting in bad faith” and not producing records that showed Deputy Banks was involved in at least seven incidents involving excessive force since 2015.
“This trial was not only about the emotional and physical damages Mr. Myles suffered at the hands of law enforcement; it exposed how the County willfully withheld key records and material that denied him due process,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Dicks.
“This verdict is a vindication not only for our client but for more than half a dozen individuals, some of whom were juveniles, who suffered at the hands of a reckless law enforcement officer,” said co-lead plaintiff attorney Browne Greene.
“The citizens of San Diego County deserve better, and this jury has sent a message that it's time for the Sheriff's Department to be held accountable for its inaction and failure to police its own,” said co-lead trial attorney Daniel Balaban.
“After eight years of litigation, we are thankful that this jury recognized the injustice and disturbing misconduct that has plagued the San Diego Sheriff’s Department for years,” said the plaintiff’s attorney Linda Workman. “We hope this outcome will lead to meaningful change in how deputies treat members of our community,” she added.
The plaintiff's trial team includes attorneys Browne Greene with the Los Angeles Plaintiffs firm Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP; Daniel Balaban, a partner with Balaban | Spielberger, LLP; Joseph Dicks and Linda Workman with the San Diego Law firm Dicks & Workman Attorneys at Law, APC; Holly Boyer and Shea Murphy with Esner, Chang & Boyer.