SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The city of Springfield has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a deaf man injured by a police officer in September 2012.
Raymond Toll, 62, suffered a serious knee injury when Officer Charles Conrad forced him to the ground in the parking lot of an auto parts shop on Main Street.
Conrad handcuffed Toll shortly before the takedown, after a shop employee reported that Toll was causing a scene and possibly suicidal.
The lawsuit says that Conrad and a second officer knew that Toll was deaf and could read lips. But they did not allow him to face them in order to attempt to communicate.
Under the settlement deal, Toll, who now lives in Gresham, will be paid $200,000 to compensate him for pain and suffering; $150,000 for attorney fees; $86,624 for medical bills; and $13,376 for various court costs.
The agreement also calls for the city’s police department to revise policy on how officers deal with people who have hearing, speech or visual impairments.
“The settlement was put together because (police) could have done a better job communicating with (Toll) and because (Toll suffered) an unfortunate injury to that knee,” city spokesman Niel Laudati told The Register-Guard newspaper.
Police were called to the auto parts shop by an employee who said Toll had asked him to call authorities for help recovering his van, which had been impounded after Toll was arrested one day earlier. A note that Toll had written to the shop worker states he didn’t have money to pay a towing fee and that he “will be kill self.”
Conrad wrote in a police report Toll responded with a noncommittal gesture when asked by police if he was suicidal.
Conrad wrote that after handcuffing Toll, he forced the deaf man to the ground because he had repeatedly twisted his body and pulled away from him. A police department investigation concluded that Conrad did not use excessive force, Police Chief Tim Doney said.
Toll’s lawsuit states he was not suicidal. He was homeless at the time, and the note was only meant to convey the importance of getting his van and personal belongings. A mental health professional who examined Toll after the incident found he was not suicidal.
Toll sustained right knee and leg injuries that required multiple surgeries and rehabilitation, the lawsuit states. The injuries included two bone fractures, a dislocated knee and complete tears of three ligaments.