Judge Favors Dothan in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

By: Demetria McClenton Email
By: Demetria McClenton Email

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta makes a ruling in favor of the Dothan Police Department in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Although the incident occurred back in 2005, details from that day are still fresh in Dothan City Attorney Len White's mind.

After 27-year old Eddie Sanders Jr. died days after being arrested, his father filed a lawsuit against the police department and the city, accusing both of violating Sanders' constitutional rights.

On Wednesday afternoon an Atlanta Federal Court closed the final chapter on an appeal for a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Dothan.

“From the beginning the city has said that Mr. Sanders death was tragic and unnecessary but it was not the fault of the police officers,” said Dothan City Attorney, Len White.

Arresting officer Maurice Eggleston was named in the suit for using excessive force against Sanders.

“Officers Maurice Eggleston and Ronald Hall showed through their reaction to a dangerous and difficult situation. They are often times confronted with people who will blame them for their own actions they are only doing their job and that job is to protect this community,” said White.

On August 24th, 2005, officers attempted to pull over sanders in a routine traffic stop.

Instead of pulling over, White says Sanders led police on a chase through downtown Dothan.

“It seems that was the reason he was running, it gave him time to swallow his cocaine. Eventually he managed to get pulled over and stopped and they struggled with him for some time until they finally subdued him and took him to jail,” said White.

According to White, days after the arrest Sanders was taken to the hospital where he later died.

“It was determined that he died from acute cocaine poisoning. Our police officers do everything to protect the community from drugs and drugs are ultimately responsible for Mr. Sanders death.”

Sanders ' father filed an appeal claiming Sanders’ 14th amendment rights were violated when he was taken to jail instead of the hospital.

But, Federal Judges sided with a lower court ruling, clearing the City and Police Department of any blame.

It all boiled down to whether the officers were qualified to recognize Sanders' need for medical attention at the time of his arrest.

The Appeals Court Judges agreed they were no, and therefore not liable in Sanders' death.

City Attorney Len White says it's not unusual for people to sue the police department, he sees several cases a year.

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  • by Barbara Location: Florida on Mar 12, 2011 at 05:42 PM
    Well I wanted to say that druggy people act like they're drunk and high,and those police officers just thought he was just being a dope head,they probably are not trained in medical distress,so they didn't know the prisoner needed to go to the hospital.
  • by honest on Jan 23, 2011 at 08:28 PM
    Well Stephen just look at the news all around the States and you will see plenty of dirty cops making the news. Stephen being from Hartfort you should know Dave Roosoe just ask him about me he did a case for me against Tyson Foods, Sure he will tell you I am a good guy.Just because you are a cop it dont make you a saint.
  • by Stephen Location: Hartford on Jan 21, 2011 at 09:06 AM
    Honest, First, thank you for you service and sacrifice. Second, the implication that being a war vet means that you or others aren't criminals is not even close to reality. There were a very large number of Vietnam war vets imprisoned after the war and a very alarming number of Iraqi war vets are now being imprisoned for various crimes...mostly drug and violent crimes. I do believe that many factors play a role in this but I also wanted to set the record straight. There are bad apples in every bunch. There are a few dirty officers just like dirty soldiers, doctors, teachers and preachers. My point is that you maybe got a little too reckless with your words and it made you sound like a thug because believe it or not, most law abiding citizens never know if a cop is dirty or not because they rarely have to deal with the police.
  • by honest on Jan 21, 2011 at 04:36 AM
    Stephen not a criminal. More like a disabled Iraq War Vet.Just have seen the way Dothan Cops act at times, Just to clear the record not all of Dothan Cops are bad but there are some.
  • by jailsitter Location: dothan on Jan 20, 2011 at 04:59 PM
    "jmydngn" the young man never made it inside the jail from what i understand. he passed away after several days in the hospital, but was never admitted into the jail. the news may have got that one wrong.
  • by Stephen Location: Hartford on Jan 20, 2011 at 11:45 AM
    Dear Honest, You say it like a true criminal should.
  • by honest on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:29 AM
    Its about time Dothan pays for the way its cops act, DA needs to be next.
  • by jmydngn Location: dothan on Jan 20, 2011 at 08:44 AM
    Although the fault is not with the arresting officers, someone at the jail missed the need for medical treatment. Come on, days after injesting quantities of cocaine he is sent to the hospital? His father filed the wrong suit.
  • by rodsmith on Jan 19, 2011 at 08:58 PM
    i'm going to have to go with the court on this one. If your dumb enough to swallow cocaine ah well...you get the results. As for trying to punish lawenforcment for not being psychic or have x-ray eyes to know you were dumb enough to do it...well that's just DONE.. what's even more sad and says a lot about what a mess this country is...THAT IT TOOK 5 YEARS to be TOSSED as the useless waste of court time in resources it was.
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