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October 1, 2003

DOTHAN settles suit with deaf man for $575000

From: Montgomery Independent, AL - Oct 1, 2003

The Associated Press

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) -- The city of Dothan is settling a lawsuit filed by a deaf man for $575,000.

The City Commission approved the settlement Tuesday with Douglas McCray.

"It was the recommendation of the attorneys that we settle this case and move forward," Mayor Chester Sowell said.

McCray had accused the city of civil rights violations, false arrest and assault, city attorney Len White said.

The lawsuit stemmed from an incident at a restaurant in 1997. One of McCray's children bumped a Corvette with a car door. The owner of the Corvette called police, who responded and attempted to write a report on the incident.

The police officer said McCray was uncooperative even though the officer wrote questions for him on a piece of paper. McCray, according to the officer, resisted attempts to be led outside. A scuffle ensued and the officer was injured.

McCray was charged with assault and resisting arrest.

The criminal charges were dismissed against McCray after a judge questioned the rights of police to use force in a civil matter. At the time, McCray's attorney said his disability prevented him from following police orders.

As part of the agreement approved Tuesday, the city will provide additional training to its police officers on dealing with hearing-impaired citizens.

McCray will receive $500,000 by Oct. 6 and the remaining $75,000 by Nov. 21.

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