Nevada County, Christopher Howie reach tentative settlement
Nevada County has agreed to a “substantial monetary payment” to settle a federal lawsuit alleging a jail officer broke an inmate’s leg in January 2018, the man’s attorney said.
County officials and Christopher Howie reached a verbal agreement on Monday, a deal that if finalized would stop the suit filed last year against the county, Sheriff’s Office, California Forensic Medical Group and a handful of others, including correctional officer Adam Grizzell, court records state.
Grizzell — accused in the civil suit of forcing Howie to the floor, breaking his leg — faces misdemeanor assault allegations in an unrelated June 2018 jail incident.
Attorney Patrick Dwyer, who represents Howie, said in a statement that the proposed settlement has three parts.
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“First there will be a substantial monetary payment to Mr. Howie,” Dwyer said.
The second part calls for a new use of force policy for the Nevada County Jail. The third states that California Forensic Medical Group personnel will have exclusive authority over an inmate’s medical needs and decide whether transport to a medical facility is required, Dwyer added.
County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green declined comment.
“It’s still highly confidential,” she said of the settlement amount. “I’ll be discussing it with (the Board of Supervisors) on June 25.”
Grass Valley police records state an officer saw Howie standing on Highway 20, near Mill Street, on Jan. 11, 2018. Drinking a beer, Howie couldn’t care for himself and he was arrested.
Under an hour later Grizzell pushed Howie’s face into a wall at the jail, forcing him to the floor and breaking his leg, the suit states. (See this story at TheUnion.com for video of the incident.)
Dwyer said Howie pleaded for medical attention through that night, but was denied. The following day authorities rolled him outside in a wheelchair and left him. Howie contacted a taxi, which called a fire department. He was later diagnosed with a fractured tibia.
“The knee was surgically repaired, but a full knee replacement will be necessary,” Dwyer added.
About five months later, on June 27, 2018, the Sheriff’s Office placed Grizzell on paid administrative leave — the same day he’s accused of assaulting a different inmate, officials and records state.
Prosecutors claim Grizzell slammed that handcuffed inmate against a wall.
Charges were filed against Grizzell in November. The case remains pending, records state.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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