Daniel Zettler wins $43K in free-speech lawsuit against cop, David Lane may file another one
Last week, Daniel Zettler, a public defender in Salida, won a $43,000 settlement with the city over a 2011 bust in which he says he did nothing more than advise an arrestee to remember his rights. But the case may not be over. Attorney David Lane says he's thinking about filing another lawsuit against the cop in question because of what he sees as defamatory comments published after the fact.
The incident took place in June 2011 at that year's edition of the FIBark Hooligan Race, described on the event's website as "America's oldest and boldest whitewater event."
Here's a video from that year's fest:
While attending the event, Zettler saw a Salida police officer, Shane Garcia, arresting a man on suspicion of assault. According to an article in the Pueblo Chieftain, Zettler reacted by telling the man, "Don't forget your constitutional rights, Fourth and Fifth Amendments."
From that point, the Chieftain's account splits into separate narratives. Zettler says Garcia grabbed him by the life vest he was wearing and "violently" spun him around; then, he attempted to walk away when Garcia didn't answer a question about whether or not he was under arrest, only to be taken into custody on suspicion of obstructing an officer.
In contrast, Garcia, through his attorney, identified by Lane as Eric Ziporin, denied spinning Zettler in a violent fashion (although he acknowledged grabbing the vest) and said he busted him only after he refused to spell his name before putting his hands in the officer's face and saying, "Go ahead and arrest me."
Zettler subsequently secured Lane's services and filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. Last week's $43,000 settlement, with Zettler receiving $25,650 and Lane's law firm getting the remaining $17,350, officially puts the case to bed -- although Lane says the cost wouldn't have been so hefty had city reps been willing to acknowledge culpability sooner.
Continue to read more about the Daniel Zettler case.