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Pasadena Settles in 2nd Jail Fatality

March 24, 1985|DEBORAH HASTINGS | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — A wrongful death suit brought against the city over the alleged beating of a jail inmate has been settled out of court for $250,000.

The settlement, awarded to the family of David G. Huebner by the Board of City Directors, marks the second time in little more than a month that out-of-court payments have been made over alleged acts of brutality by jailers Lee Roy Hudson and Dennis S. Bryant.

Attorney Carol Watson, who filed the suit on behalf of Huebner's wife and three children, said the unemployed Huebner was arrested for public drunkenness Sept. 20, 1983, and booked into Pasadena City Jail. He was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital several hours later when Hudson and Bryant found him suffering a "seizure" in his cell. Huebner lapsed into a coma and died five days later.

A coroner's autopsy concluded that Huebner died from a build-up of blood pressure in the brain and spinal cord caused by an accidental fall.

His family's suit alleged that Huebner was beaten by the jailers. City officials were unavailable for comment on why the city settled out of court.

Earlier Settlements

In February, the city awarded $250,000 to the family of Ronald L. DeFond, 51, whose suit alleged that he was beaten by Hudson and Bryant. He died Oct. 1,1983. In the same settlement, the city also granted a total of $75,000 to four other men who claimed they were assaulted in the jail.

All but one of the men involved in the settlement were arrested on intoxication charges. Of the four men who alleged that they were assaulted, two claimed that both Hudson and Bryant punched and kicked them. The two others said Hudson acted alone.

Hudson and Bryant, civilian employees, resigned in March, 1984.

The FBI and the U. S. attorney's office are investigating all of the incidents to determine if Hudson and Bryant criminally violated the inmates' civil rights. Richard Romero of the U. S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said the investigation is not expected to be concluded for several months. The probe was prompted by a complaint to the FBI, but Romero said he could not divulge who made the complaint because of governmental privacy rules that protect informants.

'Looking at It Seriously'

"I am looking at it seriously," Romero said, "but at this point it's a routine investigation."

Attorney Watson, who represented all of the plaintiffs, said last week that while the Huebner settlement was "reasonable," there are "additional issues that go beyond money compensation. We'd like to see the person involved criminally prosecuted. We'd also like to see the city establish a civil detoxification program" so that persons arrested for public drunkenness are not placed in jail.

In the DeFond and Huebner cases, the Police Department asked the Sheriff's Department and the district attorney's office to conduct their own investigations of the deaths. Both agencies determined that the jailers were innocent of wrongdoing.

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