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Shane French’s lawsuit against city, police officers nears end

Settlement agreement being finalized, attorney says

Settlement negotiations are nearing a conclusion in the case of Shane French, a Cortez resident who has sued the city of Cortez and several police officers over an arrest in 2014.

The civil lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by French and two of his family members in 2016.

According to U.S. District Court documents, an agreement was reached during a conference on May 2, but specifics regarding Medicaid lien information were still being ironed out.

On June 17, the deadline for dismissal paperwork to be submitted, the defendants’ attorneys filed an unopposed motion for a time extension on the submission deadline.

“At this time, Plaintiffs have not provided any information relating to the existence or the amount of any Medicaid lien,” the motion states. “Upon conferral with Plaintiff’s counsel, it is believed that such a lien exists.”

Once the information is provided, the defendants can pay French and his family members, the motion continues. By extending the deadline, they can ensure that the “settlement can be full and finalized at the time of the filing of dismissal paperwork.”

The lawsuit was initially filed on Feb. 5, 2016, against the city of Cortez and police officers Casey Eubanks, Jennifer Lodge (also known as Jennifer Goodall), Boyd Neagle, Ryan Carter, Sgt. David Allmon and Chief Roy Lane.

The filing came after French was found not guilty in the 22nd Judicial District Court in December 2014 on all charges relating to the alleged stabbing of a Cortez police officer.

The original complaint alleges that Cortez police officers were called to the French family’s home for assistance for a mental health hold for French – a qualified individual with a disability – but then illegally entered without consent.

The complaint further alleges that the officers pushed Glenn and Patti French, “tackled Shane French to the ground and handcuffed him,” and then “repeatedly tased Shane French while he was in handcuffs.”

French was then charged with four counts of assaulting a peace officer and three counts of resisting arrest. The alleged assault was connected to a small nick on the left side of officer Casey Eubanks’ stomach, according to court testimony.

French was in custody for about 10 months before being cleared of all charges by a jury.

A year after he was cleared, the French family filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory damages for emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship with family members after he was jailed for 10 months and found not guilty, punitive damages, economic losses, attorneys’ fees and any other relief as allowed by law.

Initially, six police officers named as defendants in the case, along with the city of Cortez, which the lawsuit alleges bears responsibility for the training of police officers.

However, charges against officer Carter and Lane have been dropped, according to Eric Ziporin, a Denver-based attorney representing the city and police officers. Carter was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs in October 2017, he said, as were some claims against the police chief. The rest of the claims against Lane were dismissed in January.

Ziporin said he was not sure when the settlement agreement would be finalized.

French has been involved in other encounters with Cortez police in recent years. He was arrested in March on suspicion of felony menacing and first-degree assault against a peace officer, and in 2017, he was convicted on an escape charge, incarcerated and paroled after assaulting two deputies, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

ealvero@the-journal.com

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