Saturday, June 11, 2005

City to pay $100,000 in officer attack

By Maggie Shepard
The Albuquerque Tribune June 11, 2005

An Albuquerque police officer's actions will cost the city $100,000, the amount awarded to a man he is accused of pepper-spraying and whose arm was broken during a September 2003 incident.

On Wednesday, a federal jury in Santa Fe found Officer Keith L. Sheley liable for using excessive force against Adam Arendt, 31. Arendt had been walking Downtown with his girlfriend when he was assaulted, according to court documents.

Sheley, responding to the assault, pepper-sprayed Arendt and pushed him against a wall, breaking his arm, according to court documents.

Claims that Sheley and his supervisor, Steven Hall, falsely arrested, neglected and unlawfully detained Arendt were dismissed, said Kathryn Levy, the city attorney assigned to the case.

Sheley, still with the Police Department, now works in the Valley Area Command.

The department has concluded an internal investigation into the incident, police spokeswoman Sgt. Beth Paiz said.

The results of the investigation and any administrative action - which could include suspension, a reprimand or retraining - for Sheley is confidential, Paiz said.

Levy said the $100,000 judgment was for compensation, not for punitive reasons.

There were no criminal charges filed in the incident, but the department was alerted to Arendt's lawsuit as a matter of policy.

Any lawsuit involving a police officer is forwarded to the department's internal affairs unit, said Charles Kolberg, a city risk manager.

Usually, though, Kolberg said, complaints are filed with the police department or the city's Police Oversight Commission before lawsuits are filed.

Levy said the city has not decided whether to appeal the case.

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