Follow-up to Purcell v. Hollenbeck lawsuit

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In 2013, I commented on a lawsuit that arose when Sebastian County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Fuller confronted Braden Purcell over Purcell’s filming a SWAT raid.  Fuller apparently did not like idea that the public had a right to film and confronted Purcell, demanding both identification and the iPhone used to film the raid.  Then, after the prosecutor dropped charges, Fuller “lost” the phone and the sheriff’s office refused to pay for it.*

The problems began to arise in the discovery phase of the case.  Fuller claimed that Purcell was aggressive, which Purcell denied.  Lavaca Police Officer Dale Teague said that Purcell “tripped” while Deputy Matthew Walter said that officers took Purcell to the ground.  Fuller also claimed that Purcell had been seen leaving the drug house earlier, a fact which Fuller did not put in his initial report, the arrest affidavit on Purcell, or mention to the Internal Affairs investigator.  Fuller also claimed that Purcell’s arrest had nothing to do with his filming, a fact which was contradicted by another deputy.  Deputy Michael Grosskreuz stated that Fuller told him that Purcell was arrested for filming the raid.

A week before it was to go to trial,† Fuller offered to settle if there were a confidentiality clause.  Purcell refused.  Fuller ended up settling for $40,000 in damages to Purcell, plus attorney’s fees and costs.‡

Now Sebastian County has a policy on photography and officers.  It prohibits what Fuller was attempting to do.  Imagine that…

*Until they were sued, at which point they were more than willing to pay, but it was too late.

†It was set for trial July 29, 2014.  The judgment was paid sometime prior to September 8, 2014.

‡Attorney fees added about $50,000, for $90,000 total.

Purcell v. Hollenbeck

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On Feb. 7, 2013, Braden Purcell used his iPhone to video record a Fort Smith, Arkansas SWAT raid.  During the course of his exercising his First Amendment rights, he was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Bryan Fuller.  Fuller seized, and allegedly later lost the cellphone and the video it contained.

After getting the run-around from the Sheriff’s Office, Purcell filed a lawsuit against both the Sheriff (Hollenbeck) and the deputy.

The case is styled Braden Michael Purcell v. Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, et al., No. 2:13-CV-2099-PKH.  It was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, and appears to have been assigned to the Chief Judge, Paul K. Holmes, III.

Here is the complaint. W.D.Ark._2-13-cv-02099_1

Normally, the defense will move for summary judgment.  I’m not sure that they will be able to get it in this case, but it depends on how well the county’s attorneys draft their motion.  I would actually not be surprised by a decent settlement offer.

 

take that, goliath.

just another day sitting next to the defendant

Hercules and the umpire.

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