$13M award upheld for homeless man's jail death/Lansing, MI FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 14 Nov 1998 13:36:11 -0400


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=46WD  Chicago Tribune - November 11, 1998

AWARD IN JAIL DEATH UPHELD

=46rom Tribune News Services

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN -- A federal judge has
upheld a nearly $13 million award against the City of
Lansing in the death of a man in its jail.

In a ruling issued Monday, Chief Judge Richard Enslen
also ordered the city to pay $343,954 in attorney's fees
to the estate of Eddie B. Swans.

Enslen expressed his personal outrage at the city for
Swans' death, which was recorded on videotape by a
jailhouse camera and shown to jurors.

"This was almost a case of `justice denied' because, but
for the video, there would have been no contradictory
evidence to the testimony of the defendants," Enslen
wrote. "Defendant city even tried to suppress or alter
the coroner's report.

"This should cause court observers to wonder how
many similar cases went unproved without the awful,
but truthful, eye of the camera."

Swans, who was homeless and mentally ill, died in
=46ebruary 1996. The 40-year-old man had stopped
breathing minutes after being shackled by his wrists and
ankles to a waistband while lying face down in a city
jail cell. At least three doctors testified that Swans died
as a result of a struggle with officers and their restraint
of him.

In April, a federal jury awarded his family $12.9
million at the end of a six-week civil trial. Federal and
Ingham County prosecutors earlier cleared police of
wrongdoing in Swan's death.

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=46WD  Chicago Tribune - November 11, 1998                    =20


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>AWARD IN JAIL DEATH UPHELD


=46rom Tribune News Services

</paraindent>

KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN -- A federal judge has

upheld a nearly $13 million award against the City of

Lansing in the death of a man in its jail.


In a ruling issued Monday, Chief Judge Richard Enslen

also ordered the city to pay $343,954 in attorney's fees

to the estate of Eddie B. Swans.


Enslen expressed his personal outrage at the city for

Swans' death, which was recorded on videotape by a

jailhouse camera and shown to jurors.


"This was almost a case of `justice denied' because, but

for the video, there would have been no contradictory

evidence to the testimony of the defendants," Enslen

wrote. "Defendant city even tried to suppress or alter

the coroner's report.


"This should cause court observers to wonder how

many similar cases went unproved without the awful,

but truthful, eye of the camera."


Swans, who was homeless and mentally ill, died in

=46ebruary 1996. The 40-year-old man had stopped

breathing minutes after being shackled by his wrists and

ankles to a waistband while lying face down in a city

jail cell. At least three doctors testified that Swans died

as a result of a struggle with officers and their restraint

of him.


In April, a federal jury awarded his family $12.9

million at the end of a six-week civil trial. Federal and

Ingham County prosecutors earlier cleared police of

wrongdoing in Swan's death.


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