Sacramento settles lawsuit over head injury
Two years after a Rancho Cordova man suffered a head laceration that required 10 stitches while being booked into the Sacramento County jail, a lawsuit over the incident has been settled in exchange for a $49,500 payout by the county.
The lawsuit filed by attorney Stewart Katz on behalf of Michael McCormack, 37, was dismissed in federal court in Sacramento on Monday after a settlement agreement was reached earlier, court documents say.
McCormack was arrested July 6, 2015, on domestic violence charges after a fight with his girlfriend, documents say. The case was later dismissed.
While he was being booked into the jail that night, McCormack claims that Deputy Sean Woodward “slammed (his) head into the wall while other deputies and supervising officers stood by and failed to prevent this unlawful use of force.”
The lawsuit claims the deputy acted “without provocation,” something the county and deputies on duty deny.
Katz obtained videos of the incident and its aftermath from the jail recording system, as well as incident reports in which deputies say McCormack was resisting as he went through the booking process.
“McCormack stood facing me with his hands clenched and he was flexing his upper body,” Woodward wrote in one report, adding that McCormack turned to him at one point and said, “You think you’re a tough guy?”
Woodward wrote that he took McCormack’s words “as a threat” and that the suspect resisted Woodward and another deputy.
During the incident, “I pushed him against the wall, and his head struck the window of the patdown area,” Woodward wrote.
“I noticed blood dripping down McCormack’s face as we escorted him toward the photo machine,” Woodward wrote, adding that he called for a nurse and that McCormack later was taken to Sutter General Hospital for treatment.
The lawsuit says McCormack ended up with 10 stitches, a concussion and related injuries that “lasted for more than a month.”
“These decisions are made by the Sheriff’s Department, County Counsel, County Risk Management, and the County Executive’s office, and often reflect little more than a business decision of a settlement weighed against the costs of defending a lawsuit,” sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said in an email Tuesday.