Glendale settles civil rights claim brought by Burbank man

The city of Glendale agreed to pay $3,500 to a Burbank man who claimed his civil rights were violated when he was falsely arrested without probable cause for an alleged fight with his girlfriend’s son.

James West Barker dropped his federal lawsuit this week after he reached an agreement with the city to settle his claims of assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and deprivation of civil rights under the color of authority.

Despite the settlement, City Atty. Michael Garcia said the city “does not admit liability” in the case.

Calls to Barker’s attorney were not returned.

When asked about the case, the city and Barker agreed they would only state that “the matter was resolved in order to avoid the risk and costs associated with further litigation,” according to the settlement.

The incident began Aug. 29, 2010, when Barker intervened in a fight between his girlfriend’s sons over a family dog, according to the U.S. District Court lawsuit.

His girlfriend’s then-15-year-old son, who allegedly was the primary aggressor, attacked and choked Barker, prompting police to be called to their home in the 1300 block of Raymond Avenue, the lawsuit claims. Barker was eventually able to restrain the boy.

The son allegedly had a history of attacking Barker and other family members, according to the lawsuit.

Glendale Police Officer Jeremy Aliaga — who responded to similar calls in the past at the home — arrived that night and arrested Barker on suspicion of child endangerment after allegedly seeing him strike his girlfriend’s son in the face twice, according the lawsuit.

Barker claims the Aliaga had already prejudged the situation because of the past run-in and fabricated his story about seeing Barker punch the boy.

He also alleged that Aliaga arrested him to “settle a score” for previously saying Glendale police officers were “Keystone Cops,” a term that described incompetent police officer roles in silent films.

Still, Aliaga alleged he saw Barker pinning the boy down and punching him twice in face, according to a joint report filed in federal court.

The boy had blood in his mouth and cuts on his head, throat and left chest, according to report. Barker suffered cuts to his left hand and right elbow.

Aliaga claimed the boy told him that he was with a friend and the family dog inside a trailer on the home driveway when Barker suddenly approached them, demanded the dog and attacked him, according to the report.

The assault and battery claims stem from the arrest in which Barker alleged he endured pain and suffering when being restrained by police.


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