Dewey settles excessive force lawsuit for $175,000

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Esteban Parra, The News Journal  9:23 p.m. EDT August 16, 2014

A 65-year-old man who claimed his civil rights were violated when Dewey Beach police arrested him in 2011 has settled his federal lawsuit with the Delaware resort town for $175,000.

Frank X. Shock, of Bowie, Maryland, accused Dewey Beach police Cpl. Gregory Lynch and Patrolman Brian Donner of using excessive force when they arrested him early June 12, 2011, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington. Shock also alleged being unlawfully detained and maliciously prosecuted.

Shock’s attorney, Daniel C. Herr, said Shock settled because “he felt it compensates him for being unlawfully arrested, beaten, and maliciously prosecuted.”

Dewey officials confirmed the settlement.

“It’s settled, that’s about all I can say,” Dewey Beach Mayor Diane Hanson said, referring further comment to Wilmington attorney Megan T. Mantzavinos, who represented the town and insurance carrier.

Mantzavinos said it was a business decision to settle the matter, but added there was no admission of liability by the town in the settlement.

“It’s litigation,” she said. “It’s an uncertain outcome for both so that’s how it goes sometimes.”

The facts were contested in the case and the officers “had to react quickly in an uncertain situation and exercise sound judgment,” Mantzavinos said.

According to the lawsuit filed in May 2013, Shock had left The Cove Restaurant and Bar about 12:30 a.m., and was riding a bike when a Dewey police vehicle, with its lights activated, swerved in front of him.

“What the hell are you doing,” Shock said, according to the lawsuit. Shock stopped riding his bicycle, but remained on the seat.

Lynch and Donner threw Shock off of his bicycle and onto the pavement, causing some injuries. Shock’s shoulder and ribs received most of the impact, court documents claim.

While complying with the officers, Shock said he asked officers “what they were doing?” as they restrained him.

Lynch, a heavy-set man, placed his foot on the side of Shock’s face and grounded the man’s head and face into the pavement and gravel, according to the lawsuit.

When a police van arrived at the scene, Shock was told to get in. That’s when he told officers that he’d recently had knee surgery. “Lynch and Donner aggressively shoved [Shock] into the police van, disregarding [Shock’s] knee condition,” the lawsuit claimed.

Shock said he asked to be taken to the hospital, but Dewey officers would not. After nearly an hour at the police station, Shock was allowed to leave after being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The charges were later dismissed, Shock added in his lawsuit that Lynch and Donner failed to show up for the criminal trial.

Contact Esteban Parra at (302) 324-2299, eparra@delawareonline.com or Twitter @eparra