San Luis Obispo slated to pay $195,000 for alleged police brutality

December 18, 2009

Jeff Milne By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo taxpayers are in line to pay $195,000 to a local business owner for alleged excessive force by police officers during a case of mistaken identity and police negligence.

Attorneys for both the city and Jeff Milne, owner of Babbo’s Pizzeria, have agreed to accept mediator Dave Peterson’s settlement suggestion. City council members are expected to approve the proposed settlement.

“Both sides have reached what they believe to be a fair resolution,” said attorney for the city, Jay Hieatt, of Hall Hieatt and Connely Attorneys at Law.

Jeff Milne's on his release rom jailIn July 2007, Milne arrived home after hiking up Bishop’s Peak, took off his shirt, shoes and socks and was settling down to watch television when four police officers descended on his home at 366 Christina and banged on the front door. Milne readily admitted the officers to a living room decorated with pictures of him and his family, asking, “I live here. What’s going on?”

According to court records, the officers ordered Milne to place his hands in the air and began frisking him. Upon discovering a knife in his pocket the officers pepper sprayed Milne and threw him face first to the ground.

“They kept bashing my face into the floor,” Milne said. “One officer tweaked my neck when he turned my face so another officer could force my eyelids open while another officer pepper sprayed me a second time.”

Officers than lifted Milne up from the ground by the handcuffs, kicked his legs out from under him and frisked him again, Milne said. At this point, officers discovered a gun in the bruised and bleeding man’s pocket.

“I had brought guns out to clean so I could go target shooting with a friend,” Milne said.

The cops huddled; this house call apparently was not what they had been expecting. Acting on a tip from a neighbor’s 10-year-old girl about a man forcibly entering the house, the officers – three from the city of San Luis Obispo, another from Cal Poly campus police – would later testify that they were prepared to confront a burglar. Instead, they found Milne at home.

Jeff Milne's on his release rom jailAfter the cops had conferred among themselves, Milne was booked into County Jail, charged with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer. He spent the night behind bars, dressed only in a pair of jeans.

Attorney Louis Koory of James McKiernan Lawyers successfully defended Milne on the criminal charges and filed a claim alleging police misconduct; unlawful arrest; excessive force; assault and battery; violation of civil rights; spoliation of evidence; and negligence.

“I’ve incurred two wrist surgeries,” Milne said. “I have three herniated disks and my seventh vertebrae is not lined up with the others.”

According to court records, police officers allege that none of their on-scene radios or police cameras were working during the arrest of Milne. In addition, San Luis Obispo Police officials claim that interrogation room audio and video recording equipment malfunctioned during the questioning of Milne, leaving no recordings available for the trial.

The officers involved are identified as Jeff Koznek, Amy Chastain, Crystal Locarnini, all of San Luis Obispo’s department; and Max Schad, Cal Poly police.

“If I had to do it over again, I would just call 911 and duck,” Milne said.

Daniel Blackburn contributed to this article.


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Boobay

Question: so is the Slo PD trying to hide the fact what happened?? If they are ashamed what the police officers just did then why didn’t they suspend them?


My opinion in this is that the four police that attacked him are the criminals because first of all..


Milne who did not resistant an arrest and which he invited the four police over inside and said that he lived there. So he was being cropadive


The four police which can see there are pictures of him and his family on the wall in the living; where the police officers were. So they had no right at all to search him and had no right to attack him at all…


Milne which was not questioned first if he was the owner of the house or not


Second of all he only had a knife on him and they just pepper stray him.. couldn’t they just ask him to give the knife to them.. and then handcuff him but no they had to pepper spray him and pin him to the ground and beat him up then handcuffed him…


The police then found a gun while he was handcuffed then later was once again pined down while handcuffed and beat up defenseless. Open his eyes and pepper sprayed his eyes.


Nothing happen to the 4 police officers


pugpresley

WOW? 195K? doesn’t make sense. If it happened exactly this way, a 195k is chump change. My feeling is he was advised by attorney to take the deal because of the knife and gun issue. Just a guess, maybe the jury might feel the officers felt “threatened”. Especially with the absense of any audio or video. It’s too bad.

SLO PD has ahistory of this. Remembe about 10 yrs. ago when a young SLO PD officer broke a college student’s arm, who was doing NOTHING.

And Milne being being prosecuted? WTF!! tax payer money down the drain.

Union Pacific Police? hadn’t heard any complaints, but the interesting thing is the rail cop is a former Morro Bay Police Officer who resigned instead of being fired.

Ian Parkinson? former Morro Bay cop and high school grad. Not a nice guy when he was on the MB force. Hope he doesn’t become sheriff. I had personal dealings with him as an officer in MB and we was totally UNPROFESSIONAL.!!!!


tj

I, too, am amazed that anyone finds the SLO PD story of all recording and video equipment malfunctioning simultaneously to be credible. This stinks to high-heaven.


I’ve also heard some incredible stories of out of bounds behavior by the SLO railroad police. Someone ought to take a look at them too.


closed law firm

If this leaked, $195K settlement, actually occurs, I’d expect the next headlines to read: “After decades of presents in the San Luis Obispo community, James McKiernan Lawyers permanently closes its doors. Sources suggest that their representation in the ‘Milne’ suite seriously smacked of back-door influences with the city, all of which encouraged and resulted in a ridiculously low, settlement amount. With this association, there is little chance that anyone needing legal services will ever again consider this firm.”


Westside85

let’s get things straight, is this about some personal vendetta that YOU have against this law firm??? Because it seems to me as though Mr. Milne has no criminal record pertaining to evading arrest today due to his criminal trial being successfully won by his attorney whom happens to be employed at the firm that you say is worthless. It seems to me that if this worthless attorney and law firm never cleared him of the criminal charges, then there would be no civil trial to even consider. Before making comments, why not try a little research and remember that this is about Mr. Milne and not your personal frustrations.


Cindy

I would certainly expect that he was cleared of criminal charges. Don’t know how much it cost him but it shouldn’t have been too difficult. I had a friend in Redondo Beach that something similar happened to. It took all of one hearing that lasted about 3 hours. The judge was furious with the police and the DA, he told them all off before finding for my friend. Like I said , what criminal charges did they even have to clear Mr. Milne of? Sounds like the police were the criminals.


Joe Public

Methinks that the “closed law firm” has been prior burned by the firm, now wallowing in sour grapes … hence they ignoramously vent in the blog and want to see the firm closed and doesth protest too much gainst them – embarrassingly bypassing the issue in the article..


jlwils

Yeah, I normally sit in my easy chair with no shirt on, watching television with a knife and a gun in my pockets. Something smells in Denmark. I’m not backing the PD’s action, but something isn’t adding up. In addition, there were two female officers involved. I think they all need to meet at the White House and have a beer with Barry.


BeenThereDoneThat

O.k. so you are sitting cleaning your guns, there is a knock at the door and not knowing who it is, you put the gun in your pocket before answering the door so there is no gun sitting in the open.


I’m sorry this is America and if the gun is legal and you are in YOUR HOME, that is not illegal last I knew.


Sitting in your house with no shirt?? Wow if that is against the law or implies crime, we better start rounding up a lot of men in this country. Good God they may sit around in their underwear next!!


zaphod

Something smells in Denmark not to blame Denmark! it is your comment that is the stinking troll. and we don’t like any stinky troll y comments here.


bobfromsanluis

So, the police respond to a burglary call, with three SLO officers and a Cal Poly officer; the are let into the home by a man that “might” be a burglar (why would a burglar even open the door?), the officers do not give the man the chance to retrieve his identification, they don’t notice the family pictures around the room, all of their recording devices are “malfunctioning”, the wrestle him to the ground, they pepper spray him not once, but twice, even prying open his eyes for the second dose, they arrest him and the recording devices in the interrogation room “malfunctions” as well. Have I got the gist of the story correct? Wow. Every officer involved should be on suspension, the city attorney should be sweating bullets as to how much the city really should be made to pay for this man’s suffering, injuries and embarrassment, not to mention the fact that he was in his own home at the time of the arrest. I say the city is lucky this man wasn’t from a minority race, or there would absolute hell to pay. Chief Linden, you have failed here as to answering to the public for the actions of your officers. And a citizens oversight committee is desperately needed to oversee all law enforcement actions in the county. This should not have happened, and should never again.


Nancy

What do you expect. They have a high school education if that and six months of training. We pay them 100K and give them a gun, Any freeking idiot can be a cop.We are living in a dangerous society,


Nancy

Mr. Milne, I agree with Bluebird, your attorney ‘sold you out’. Don’t settle for $195,000. They kicked your butt big time, now if you really don’t want this to happen to any other citizen, you need to kick theirs back. Take this to a jury, you will be awarded so much more. We need to make an example of the police who acted like criminals, just looking at your injuries (particularly your elbow) makes me hurt, not to mention the pepper spray twice! The SLO PD don’t appear to be taking any responsibility for this, they will pay a smitten of what you are due and then close the door. Save us all Mr. Milne, fire your attorney and tell them NO DEAL.


Westside85

I wouldn’t exactly attack the attorney on retainer in this situation. In my particular opinion Mr. Milne, it seems to me that your attorney did a very good job seeing as he was able to win the Criminal case against the city of SLO, something that has not happened in the past that frequently. I’m sure that there are many situations that need to be taken into consideration when going into trial, for example not all Jurors think alike and may not award a verdict that is more than the 195,000$ that SLO is offering. I do however agree that you deserve much more and going to trial will most likely help that occur and good luck sir! As for your attorney, it seems as though if he was able to win your criminal trial in SUCH a conservative and close minded law enforcement town—then i’ll be ready to bet he’ll be you’re best pick when it comes to the civil trial. Best wishes Mr. Milne.


Bluebird

Without the pictures it would be impossible to picture the brutal beating the SLO PD inflicted on their victim. This is worse then what the two Arizona transients did to the man they met on the tracks. These are rogue cops who should not be on the street ever again. It appears that Milne’s attorney sold him out. I can’t help but wonder if he as well as the mediator is part of the whole good old boy system in SLO county.