Use of force was justified

Jury finds in favor of deputy in suit over DUI arrest

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COEUR d'ALENE - A jury in U.S. District Court returned a verdict in favor of a sheriff's deputy in a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed excessive force was used in his arrest.

Bonner County resident Joel Petty, 62, was arrested during the evening hours of March 8, 2008, for driving under the influence of alcohol following a two-vehicle accident on Schweitzer Mountain Road.

Bonner County Sheriff's Office deputy Clinton Mattingley responded to the accident scene. A passenger in the other vehicle suffered a back injury.

The deputy noticed the odor of alcohol on Petty, who also was unsteady on his feet and had slurred speech.

Field sobriety evaluations were performed on Petty before he was then arrested for DUI. Petty would later plead guilty to the charge.

In his lawsuit, Petty claimed that his civil rights had been violated because Mattingley handcuffed him with his hands behind his back after Petty complained of problems with his joints and a prior shoulder surgery.

Petty claimed Mattingley caused a right shoulder rotator cuff injury and that Mattingley's actions amounted to excessive force.

The seven-person jury disagreed with Petty's claims.

An additional charge against the Bonner County Sheriff's Office for failing to train on proper arrest procedures was dismissed by a judge prior to trial.

The sheriff's department and Mattingley were represented by Coeur d'Alene attorney Peter C. Erbland. Petty and his wife were represented by attorney Greg Devlin, of Spokane.

Erbland said, "The amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight."

Erbland said Mattingley handled the accident scene - involving six people - without backup.

The jury returned the verdict Friday.

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