City, McAdam agree to arbitration in excessive force case

July 22, 2013

LUDINGTON – The City of Ludington has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit against it through binding arbitration. The plaintiff in the case is Ludington bar and restaurant owner Joe McAdam has accused Ludington Police Department and Mason County Sheriff’s Office of using excessive force under a federal statute and also assault and battery under state law, based on the officers’ use of tasers in arresting him on Ludington Avenue and again in the emergency room at Memorial Medical Center during medical treatment. The county is co-defendant in the case.

The case stems from a July 20, 2009 traffic stop of Joe’s mother, Susan McAdam on Ludington Avenue shortly after midnight. Susan was pulled over by Ludington Police Department officer Matthew York for inoperable tail lights, according to the website 

After questioning Susan about her consumption of alcohol that night, York asked her to step out of the vehicle, and he escorted her to the rear of the vehicle and proceeded to conduct field sobriety tests, the website states.

“When Plaintiff got out of the vehicle to check on his mother, York told him she was OK and to return to the vehicle. Plaintiff got out a second time, and York again told him to stay in the vehicle, at which point Plaintiff informed York that he could leave and walk home, and York told him to just leave then.”

At that time then-Ludington Police Officer Matthew Warmuskerken (now a MCSO deputy) arrived on the scene as backup, and had a similar exchange with Joe who then began recording his exchange with Warmuskerken on his iPhone.

“York then told Plaintiff he was interrupting his investigation and needed to leave. Plaintiff began walking away, followed by Warmuskerken. About that time, two Mason County sheriff deputies, (Derrek) Wilson and (Oscar) Davila, arrived at the scene. The exchange between Plaintiff and the three officers escalated, culminating in Officer Warmuskerken and deputies Wilson and Davila taking Plaintiff down to the pavement and each using their tasers on him, several times, both to “drive stun” him and tase him with the probes. Plaintiff sustained cuts and scrapes during the take-down. Officer Warmuskerken also received some minor facial injuries.

“Plaintiff was handcuffed and transported to Memorial Medical Center pursuant to law enforcement policy after use of a taser. One of Plaintiff’s wrists was handcuffed to the hospital bed while he was being treated. Plaintiff was initially compliant but then realized he did not have his iPhone with the video he had taken during the traffic stop. He was advised by Warmuskerken that it had been seized as evidence, at which point Plaintiff refused further medical treatment and the officers’ commands that he lie back on the bed. At that point, Deputy Wilson used his taser in an unsuccessful attempt to drive stun Plaintiff’s right thigh and force him to lie down. Officer Warmuskerken then deployed his taser in the drive stun mode on Plaintiff’s left thigh, and Plaintiff laid back down. After hospital staff finished treating and applying a bandage to Plaintiff’s scraped knee, he was transported to the Mason County Jail.

“Plaintiff was initially charged with assaulting/resisting/obstructing Officer York in the performance of his duties. On Oct. 7, 2009, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to assault and battery involving Officer Warmuskerken, Following his release and the return of his iPhone, Plaintiff discovered that the traffic stop video had been erased/deleted.

“Plaintiff alleges three claims under § 1983 and assault and battery: Count I-Excessive Force against the individual Defendants (Warmuskerken, Wilson and Davila) related to Plaintiff’s Ludington Avenue arrest; Count II-Excessive Force against the individual Defendants related to the force used at Memorial Medical Center; Count III-Assault and Battery against the individual Defendants; and Count V-§ 1983 municipal liability against Mason County (failure to train and supervise).”

Joe McAdam then filed the complaint in federal district court in Grand Rapids.

See more of the case here. 

Ludington City Council, during its regular meeting, met in closed session to discuss the issue with its attorneys. Following the closed session, the council took action to pursue binding arbitration outside of the court, per the request of McAdam’s attorney.

City Manager John Shay said the arbitrator’s ruling is final with no appeal allowed.




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