Excessive force claim must be resolved by jury
Erika Cummings sued City of Flint police officer Seth Lewis, claiming that Lewis punched her repeatedly in the process of arresting her, fractured bones in her face. Prior to her suit, she pleaded "no contest" to a resisting arrest charge. The officer argued that her claim should be dismissed because she had already allowed the court to find her guilty of resisting arrest.
The Court of Appeals reviewed the case and agreed with the trial court's analysis. Since use of excessive force by the officer is not an affirmative defense to a criminal charge of resisting arrest, and since the State is not required to prove the absence of excessive force to obtain a conviction, the fact of conviction does not dispose of the civil right to pursue an excessive force claim. Cummings can pursue the claim and the jury--if it believes her account rather than Lewis' account--can make a finding of excessive force: even where she has been found guilty of resisting arrest.