The Transylvania Times -


From Staff Reports 

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Officers, Deputies – Brevard NC

 

February 23, 2017



A lawsuit that claimed an abuse of power by local law enforcement in 2011 has been dismissed.

On May 14, 2011, Brevard Police Department officers and Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a complaint of someone acting in a disruptive manner at the Mountain Glen Apartments on Gallimore Road.

In a memo on Feb. 14 of this year, Police Chief Phil Harris told City Manager Jim Fatland that when the officers got to the apartments they arrested Michael Kitchen on two outstanding warrants.

Kitchen, Harris said, resisted and was assisted by his aunt, Lisa Charlene Honeycutt, and a friend, Natasha Sinclair.

“During the resistance to officers performing their lawful duty,” Harris said, “Sinclair set the apartment on fire. Officers acted heroically evacuating all occupants at great personal risk and eventually arresting all three who resisted and attacked officers.”

On May 14, 2014, Kitchen and Honeycutt filed a lawsuit against the city, Sheriff’s Office, and individual officers and deputies.

The lawsuit claimed that officers forced their way into the Mountain Glen apartment shared by Kitchen and Honeycutt and physically assaulted Kitchen by placing him in a chokehold and tackling him to the ground. It also claimed officers “intentionally inflicted pain” on Honeycutt when they forced her to the ground and placed her in handcuffs.

The suit went on to say police shot Kitchen with a Taser, as well as shooting him with pepper spray at the same time, causing Kitchen’s clothes to catch on fire, eventually spreading to the apartment.

These claims were widely refuted by law enforcement. In 2015, U.S. District Court Martin Reidinger dismissed several of the claims in the lawsuit, including that Kitchen’s and Honeycutt’s civil rights were violated by local law enforcement by unfairly targeting and profiling the two between 2009 and 2011.

After that, the remaining claim in the case specifically pertained to the May 14, 2011, incident.

According to Harris’ memo, on Dec. 29, 2016, Reidinger dismissed the lawsuit for “failure to prosecute” and also granted “summary judgment.”

“Reidinger concluded that (Kitchen and Honeycutt) failed to follow through with the lawsuit by not responding to court proceedings in a timely manner, among other failures,” Harris said. “In granting summary judgment, Reidinger concluded that in all allegations, the officers acted properly or did not do what they were alleged to have done by the plaintiffs.”

All the appeals dates have passed, so Reidinger’s conclusions ended the lawsuit, Harris said.

“Officers involved in this incident were professional and fair in how they approached the original incident and did not act in a manner deserving of a lawsuit,” Harris said. “This conclusion is the proper outcome. Now that this lawsuit has ended, service awards for key officers who acted in a manner that prevented loss of life are pending department review.”

 
 

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