City, inmate settle lawsuit
Documents allege assault by officer
By: Sophia Voravong, Journal & Courier: June 20th, 2013
Some type of settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by an Indiana Department of Correction inmate against the city of Lafayette and one of its police officers.
In December, 25-year-old Tyler J. Collins of Lafayette sued the city and Officer Bernie Myers in U.S. District Court, alleging that Myers assaulted Collins while he was handcuffed to a hospital bed following an arrest in November 2011.
Court records show that the lawsuit, which sought compensatory and punitive damages, has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning that Collins cannot refile the complaint.
An attorney with the Chicago-based law firm representing Collins, Loevy & Loevy, confirmed this week that the lawsuit was settled. She referred further questions to another attorney at the firm, who did not return a message left by the Journal & Courier seeking comment.
Details of settlements in civil actions commonly are confidential.
Lafayette police arrested Collins on Nov. 14, 2011, after an ex-girlfriend reported that he bit and grabbed her. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Central hospital for treatment because of a minor cut to his head from an unrelated fight.
There are conflicting reports of what transpired next.
Lafayette police alleged that Collins tried to grab Myers’ handgun from its holster, then squeezed the officer’s fingers, causing “extreme pain.” Myers responded by striking Collins.
That led to Collins being charged, and later convicted of resisting law enforcement, battery and other offenses. He’s serving a three-year, 161-day prison sentence.
Collins’ lawsuit, however, challenged Myers’ story – namely, that the assault was unprovoked. At the time, both of Collins’ hands were cuffed to a hospital bed, and he wore a cervical collar and surgical mask that restricted movement and vision.
He claimed that Myers repeatedly struck his face and put his hands around Collins’ cervical collar, stopping only after a physician intervened. Collins’ mother gave the J&C a copy of a letter from the physician, which supported Collins’ version of events.
The lawsuit accused Myers of excessive force and of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. Collins sued the city on claims of fostering a “code of silence” among police officers.
Collins reported the allegations to the Lafayette Police Department, but an internal investigation found that his claims were unfounded, Deputy Chief Dave Payne previously told the J&C.
Myers, however, was “verbally counseled” for not taking photos of Collins’ injuries to aid in the internal investigation.