Appeals court reinstates suit by Detroit cop Tasered in ’06 traffic stop

David Shepardson
The Detroit News

A Detroit police officer who was Tasered by Farmington Hills police after running a red light in 2006 won a legal victory Thursday when a federal appeals court allowed his suit against the Oakland County suburb to go forward.

Writing in a 2-1 decision, U.S. Appeals Judge Damon Keith said there is possible evidence of police or prosecutorial misconduct in the case against David Marshall. The court found that a deal to end the criminal case in June 2007 and prevent a civil suit was never completed.

“We refuse to hold that a state criminal court’s decision to accept a release-dismissal may circumvent the defendant’s right to redress simply by stating that a case is ‘essentially over,’ ” Keith wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Jane Branstetter Stranch.

Judge Alice Batchelder dissented, arguing the case should have been decided in state court. She said there is “no reason to believe that Congress intended to provide a person claiming a federal right an unrestricted opportunity to relitigate an issue already decided in state court.”

A lawyer for Farmington Hills, Kenneth G. Galica, said the city will file a petition for rehearing by the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Marshall’s suit alleges he was treated harshly because he failed to show “the subservience expected from an African-American motorist in Farmington Hills.”

While in uniform but off duty, Marshall was pulled over in December 2006 for running a red light. Marshall was ordered to get out of the car and remove his firearm from its holster. He requested a supervisor, and when an officer reached for Marshall’s weapon, he pushed him away.

A Farmington Hills officer returned to his patrol car, retrieved an electronic stun gun and shocked Marshall twice. Marshall was charged with obstructing law enforcement.

Marshall also was subsequently charged with child abuse in connection with physical discipline he used against his sons about seven months before the traffic stop.

He was tried on that charge and acquitted.

Marshall and his wife filed suit in July 2008 in U.S. District Court in Detroit. The case was dismissed in 2010, reinstated by a federal appeals court in 2012 and sent back to the lower court, which again dismissed the case last year.

In his opinion, Keith noted that Farmington Hills police revived the child-abuse investigation of Marshall the day of the traffic stop, which the judge called a “punitive measure.”