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FAYETTEVILLE -- A man has sued Elkins police and the city claiming he was injured by an officer who used excessive force against him.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court Friday on behalf of Greg Gabbard and names as defendants James Todd, a police officer, former Police Chief Bill Rhodes, current Chief Bryan Watts, the Police Department and the city. Gabbard is represented by Charles W. Pearce, a Rogers lawyer.

Gabbard claims he was driving home the evening of Aug. 8, 2017, when Todd followed him to his home and initiated a traffic stop in Gabbard's long driveway. The lawsuit claims Todd had gotten an anonymous call Gabbard was driving left of center, but Todd hadn't observed a traffic violation.

Gabbard got out of his car. Todd introduced himself, asked Gabbard how much he'd had to drink and informed him, without doing any field sobriety tests or a portable breath test, he was taking Gabbard to jail, according to the lawsuit.

Gabbard complied with all Todd's instructions and tried to explain because of a previous open-heart surgery, he was unable to put his hands fully behind his back to be handcuffed.

The lawsuit claims Todd aggressively pulled Gabbard's arms behind his back to handcuff him, even though Gabbard was not resisting, resulting in a fractured left finger.

Todd, aware of Gabbard's injury, told Gabbard he was going to give him a break, removed the handcuffs and allowed Gabbard to go in his home, according to the lawsuit.

Gabbard's finger required surgery. The lawsuit claims Gabbard incurred $17,630 in medical expenses, which caused him to miss 42 days of work, and had to use all his sick leave and paid time off, costing him another $5,000 of regular income.

Todd didn't make an incident report or any kind of police report about the events and the Police Department didn't do an internal review, according to the lawsuit.

Rhodes and Watts failed to properly train and supervise Todd, according to the lawsuit. The policies, practices, procedures and customs established by the department and city led to Constitutional violations against Gabbard, including unreasonable seizure and excessive force, according to the lawsuit.

Claims also include negligence, assault and battery.

Gabbard is asking for compensatory damages as well as unspecified punitive damages.

Metro on 03/29/2020

Print Headline: Man sues Elkins police, says officer used excessive force

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