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Jurors Blame City for Man's Broken Arm : Police: The panel hears testimony on how much money to award to a diabetic involved in a confrontation with a Glendale officer.

April 04, 1991|PHIL SNEIDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jurors who found the city of Glendale negligent in the conduct of a police officer who broke an Eagle Rock man's arm heard testimony this week to help them decide how much the city should pay in damages.

Marvin J. Riley, 48, suffered a heart attack and other complications while undergoing treatment for the arm injury, and he is no longer able to hold a job, his attorney, John F. Denove, said. Denove said testimony by doctors who treated Riley supported his claims.

But Senior Asst. City Atty. Ron Braden, who is representing Glendale, said Tuesday that his expert witnesses would shed a different light on Riley's condition.

"Our contention is that the broken arm had nothing to do with the other problems, and that even if the jury finds they did, there are still many job opportunities available to him," Braden said.

The Glendale Superior Court jury determined March 27 that the police officer's negligence was the cause of the injury to Riley, who had passed out in his truck because of a diabetic reaction.

During the trial, jurors heard conflicting testimony from Glendale police officers. And Denove said the widespread public outcry over the videotaped beating of Rodney G. King by Los Angeles police officers might have influenced the jury's decision.

"I think that what the videotape did is that for most of us who were brought up thinking that police couldn't possibly do something like this or misrepresent the facts, it showed that in some cases, it can happen," Denove said.

This week, in testimony to determine monetary damages, an economist called by Denove testified that Riley, who had spent 20 years working for Sparkletts Water, has lost $129,000 in pay because he has been unable to work since 1986. Joyce Pickersgill also testified that without the disabling injury Riley would have earned nearly $400,000 by age 60.

Riley wants the city to compensate him for past and future lost wages, medical bills and the emotional stress that he claims he has suffered as a result of the arm injury. His attorney would not disclose the amount that he would ask the jury to award during closing arguments late this week.

Braden has argued that Riley's medical problems are a result of diabetes, which he has had since age 4. The assistant city attorney said his witnesses would provide lower compensation figures and testify that Riley is capable of working.

The civil trial stems from an incident that occurred Aug. 22, 1986, in the Security Pacific National Bank parking lot on Brand Boulevard. A security guard called Glendale police after seeing Riley walking in a disoriented manner, then slumped over behind the wheel of his pickup truck.

Officer Ashraf Mankarios, a nine-year Glendale Police Department veteran and now one of the department's helicopter pilots, attempted to rouse Riley. Mankarios testified that he feared for his safety after the semiconscious Riley took a swing at him.

The officer said he then held the driver's left arm behind the man's back and helped him out of the truck. Mankarios, 29, testified that Riley's arm broke accidentally while Riley stumbled out of the cab.

During the first portion of the trial, witnesses gave conflicting testimony about how the injury occurred.

A bank security guard and a second police officer, Susan Hayn, said they did not see Riley swing at Mankarios but did see Mankarios remove Riley from the truck with a bear hug. A supervising police sergeant, Dwayne Bruce, testified that he saw Riley swing at Mankarios and then dive out of the vehicle. But the guard and Hayn said the sergeant did not arrive until after Riley was out of the truck, a sequence supported by computerized police records.

Jurors learned during the trial that Riley lost consciousness because of low blood sugar, a result of his diabetes. No criminal charges were filed against him, but Braden argued that Riley was responsible for the incident because he did not take proper care of his health.

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