Region 8 Deputy Accused of Excessive Force Wins on Appeal

SEPTEMBER 8, 2006 - Posted at 7:51 a.m. CDT

SEARCY, AR - A federal appeals court says a White County sheriff's deputy cannot be sued on a claim that he used excessive force in arresting a man suspected of beating his ex-wife.

In a split decision, a three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Deputy Clayton Edwards that the suspect hadn't shown that the deputy used excessive force or that the forced used had violated the man's rights.

According to the opinion, Edwards was called to the White County fairgrounds in Searcy on September 13, 2003, to investigate a report that a fight broke out.

When he arrived, there was a tense crowd and Shirley Cox, whose nose was bleeding, told Edwards that her ex-husband, David Kenyon, had hit her.  Edwards and other officers approached Kenyon, and Edwards put his hand on Kenyon's elbows and asked his name.  Edwards told Kenyon he was arresting him.  What happened next is in disupte.

Kenyon claimed that Edwards threw him onto the hood of a car and pulled his arms up high behind his back to handcuff him.  Kenyon said he suffered a torn rotator cuff, requiring surgery.

Kenyon sued four officers, but a jury ruled in favor of all of them except Edwards.  The jury deadlocked on the claim that Edwards used excessive force, and the judge declared a mistrial.  The judge then denied Edwards' request to dismiss the case against him.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)