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FRIDAY, MARCH 2, 2007
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Hartselle woman files claim against city

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com? 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A 64-year-old grandmother, whose leg was broken during an August arrest, has filed a claim against the city seeking in excess of $100,000.

"My client is still under doctor's care and will be dealing with this for sometime to come," Decatur attorney Greg Reeves said.

Marie McCay of 800 Elizabeth Place alleges that police officers caused her leg to break when they forced her off her front porch Aug. 28.

"I asked for help due to my leg hurting, and was repeatedly told that nothing was wrong with my leg," she wrote in the claim.

After surgery, Reeves said, McCay spent four months in a hospital or at a rehabilitation center.

"She was in a facility, not at home," the attorney said.

McCay's children filed a complaint with the Police Department following the incident.

Probe cleared officer

The Madison County Sheriff's Department investigated the arresting officer, Investigator Tony Fetner, and cleared him.

But to make sure Fetner followed proper procedure, the city asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a second opinion. Hartselle has not received results from the FBI probe, Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

"I've been told that all they will tell us is whether we violated her civil rights or not," he said.

City records show that the incident with McCay occurred when officers served a warrant on Chris McCay, 32, also of 800 Elizabeth Place.

Officers charged Chris McCay with two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and transported him to the Morgan County Jail, where deputies released him in September on $40,000 bond.

Officers charged Marie McCay with obstruction of justice. The family member who filed the complaint alleging abuse said she was an innocent bystander.

False arrest alleged

In the claim, Reeves alleges false arrest, excessive force, malicious prosecution and negligence.

Although he is still gathering information, the attorney said he filed the claim because state law requires him to do so within six months after the incident.

Tankersley said the city forwarded the claim to Hartselle's insurance carrier and city attorney Larry Madison.

"We won't do anything with it until we hear from them," he said.

This is the second claim filed against Hartselle in less than a year alleging officer misconduct.

John P. and Ozell Davis alleged last year that Hartselle officers caused them "severe emotional distress and mental anguish" when they broke into their home with guns pointed.

Decatur attorney Jerry Knight sought $1 million for the couple. Madison advised Hartselle not to pay the claim, in part, because state law limits dollar awards in lawsuits against local governments to $100,000 per plaintiff and $300,000 per incident.

While the three officers involved in the incident remained as defendants, Knight requested, and a federal judge dismissed, Hartselle from the lawsuit.

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