- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - A jury on Thursday awarded $36.6 million to a man who was arrested for drunken driving and taken to a Flint-area jail where he was pepper-sprayed, hit with a stun gun and restrained face-down with a mask over his face.

William Jennings sued five former or current officers from the Genesee County sheriff’s office, accusing them of excessive force after an arrest in Flint Township in 2010. The evidence included video from the jail.

“I remember pretty much everything hurt. Mainly my face. Face, shoulder, arm, back. I basically just got whooped by a football team,” Jennings said in a deposition earlier in the case. “That’s what it felt like.”

The video showed officers acting aggressively after Jennings lowered his hand during a search. He fought back during a struggle and a mask was placed over his head to prevent him from biting or spitting. Jennings was restrained on a bed for more than two hours.

“I ended up chewing a hole in the mask that was stuck to my face, breaking my tooth in the process to breathe because I kept losing consciousness at that point,” Jennings said in the deposition.

The verdict was reached after a 2 ½-week trial and about two days of deliberations in federal court. More than half of the multimillion-dollar verdict came in the form of punitive damages, an additional award for what the jury considered to be an illegal action.

“This verdict is in the nature of a runaway verdict,” an attorney for the officers, William Reising, told The Associated Press. He pledged to appeal.

In court filings, Reising said Jennings‘ treatment wasn’t unconstitutional. He said Jennings wasn’t compliant and had resisted efforts to contain him.

“He is yelling the whole time and he is fighting the whole time,” Deputy David Kenamer said.


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