The City Council on Monday agreed to pay $292,500 to a Riverside County man who alleged that a Santa Ana police officer threw him to the ground and beat him with a baton.
Hossein Farahani, 28, was awarded more than $600,000 by a federal jury last September, but attorneys for both sides hammered out a settlement for half of that amount after the city appealed the decision.
The settlement was an economic decision, City Atty. Edward J. Cooper said.
“We have a jury verdict against the city, plus the jury found punitive damages,” Cooper said. “Interest is accruing on that, plus attorneys’ fees.”
But, he added, “The city felt that what occurred was proper on the part of the officer. That’s why we went to trial and why we appealed.”
The jury had assessed $112,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages against Officer Steven Lodge and the city after finding that Lodge used excessive force.
The award was for injuries Farahani suffered, including a ruptured disk in his back and a cut on his head that required eight stitches. In his lawsuit, Farahani had sought $5 million in damages.
Lodge was on his police motorcycle near 4th Street and Grand Avenue about 2:30 p.m. on May 2, 1989, when he saw Farahani crossing 4th Street against the flashing “Don’t Walk” sign. When he set out in pursuit, Farahani fled and hid behind a partially demolished wall nearby.
During the trial, Lodge contended that Farahani refused to obey orders to put his hands on the police vehicle and that he struggled against Lodge, forcing him to push Farahani to the ground.
Farahani testified that his limited English prevented kept him from understanding the officer’s orders.
“It was a very unusual case,” said Jerry Steering, one of two attorneys who represented Lodge. “It was in the middle of the afternoon in broad daylight and there were a lot of witnesses. Neutral witnesses with credibility is what made our case.”
But Lodge denied striking Farahani with his baton. His attorney, James W. Parker, suggested that Farahani may have struck his head on the officers boot during the struggle, or on the bars welded to Lodge’s motorcycle.
Times correspondent Shannon Sands contributed to this story.