Lawsuit verdict latest black eye for Valley Brook police
Oklahoma City police veteran Chuck Wheeler sued former Valley Brook officer Shelby Field and the town, claiming he was unjustly arrested and detained after a September 2009 traffic stop.
Jurors put the town of Valley Brook and its police department on notice this week when they found in favor of a veteran Oklahoma City police detective arrested on trumped-up charges, his attorney said Friday.
“I think they sent a message to Valley Brook to grow up and start acting like a professional law enforcement agency, that they've been doing this kind of stuff for years, and it needs to stop,” said Scott Adams, one of the attorneys representing detective Chuck Wheeler.
A jury hearing the civil case in Oklahoma County District Court found in favor of the detective, awarding damages of $10,000 from the town of Valley Brook and $1,000 from former officer Shelby N. Field.
It was the latest in a string of setbacks for the department, which patrols an area from SE 59 on the north, SE 65 on the south, Eastern on the east and Crossroads Boulevard on the west, a distance of less than half a square mile.
Former Police Chief Melvin Fisher was arrested on Labor Day and has been charged in Creek County with possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute. His criminal case is pending. He recently was fired and replaced by Michael Stamp.
Officer Jamie Sanchez resigned after he was arrested in November 2009 by Oklahoma City police on complaints of domestic abuse.
Wheeler's attorneys sued Field and his employer, claiming the officer had no legal authority to detain their client and acted without probable cause.
Field told jurors he
Field's attorney argued his client's actions were justified because Wheeler appeared to be driving erratically and ignored several commands by Field to get back in his vehicle when he was pulled over a short time later.
Attorney David Kirk, who also represented the town of Valley Brook, told the jury Wheeler assaulted Field by slapping away the officer's hands when he pushed him in the chest to get him to back up.
Wheeler was held at the Valley Brook police station for more than three hours, despite not being charged with a crime or receiving a breathalyzer to determine if he was under the influence, according to testimony.
Adams called it business as usual for the police department in Valley Brook, an area known for strip clubs and bars and DUI
“I don't think they, quite frankly, understand the ramifications of their behavior,” he said. “Hope