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CRENSHAW : Woman Wins Suit Over Police Assault

April 18, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY and Times Wire Services

A jury has awarded $371,000 to a Crenshaw woman who claimed police officers roughed her up in the driveway of her home, then falsely arrested her to cover up the assault.

"What the police did to me was wrong, and I am glad the jury was able to see that," said Konstance Withers, 36.

On Oct, 26, 1990, officers investigating a stolen-vehicle report tried to stop Withers on Longwood Avenue near Adams Boulevard in the Crenshaw area, but the woman said she continued to her home about four houses away. It was later discovered that the vehicle's license plate number had mistakenly been registered with the Anaheim Police Department as stolen.

The officers, one male and the other female, claimed Withers tried to evade them. After being arrested, Withers said the female officer conducted a full body search. When she complained, the officers allegedly struck, choked and arrested her without justification, said her lawyer, Carl E. Douglas.

Jurors agreed with Withers, a mother of five, and on April 9 she was awarded $371,000 for pain, suffering and emotional trauma.

"I was happy about the outcome of the trial, but I still think the color of the law protects police when they do wrong," Withers said.

Officials of the city attorney's office and civil liabilities department could not be reached for comment on the case.

Douglas said the size of the award was commensurate with the seriousness of the charges; the city initially offered Withers only $5,000 to settle the case. However, he said the jury couldn't give Withers what she really wanted--an apology.

"It sounds like a cliche, but she cared most about getting an apology," Douglas said. "This ordeal had an enormous impact on her . . . she's suffered from depression and anxiety. She doesn't feel safe driving."

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