Compensation given to arrested man hit by Joplin police officer

Saturday, July 19, 2008 | 7:31 p.m. CDT; updated 11:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JOPLIN — The city of Joplin recently paid $5,000 to a 25-year-old black man who was struck in the face by a white police officer while he was handcuffed, according to a newspaper report.

The incident took place at the city jail on April 20 after David G. Neal was arrested on suspicion that he rammed a police car with his own car in downtown Joplin and resisting arrest.

The officer involved, Homer Knisley, 31, left the Joplin Police Department on Wednesday. His departure and the discipline of two other officers involved were disclosed Thursday in the wake of investigations by the department’s internal affairs division and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Police Chief Lane Roberts told the Joplin Globe on Friday that Knisley and other officers were reacting to provocation by Neal.

“But the bottom line is even if everything (Knisley) says is true, you don’t punch a guy in handcuffs,” Roberts said. “There’s no way to justify it.”

The police department’s internal affairs division began looking into the arrest and jailing of Neal before any complaints were received, he said.

Roberts said the investigation was turned over to the Jasper County prosecutor’s office, and the prosecutor declined to file charges against the officer who hit Neal.

The names of the other officers involved and the disciplinary measures taken have not been made public. Roberts said they were disciplined for not reporting what they knew of the incident at the jail to their supervisors.

Roberts referred questions about the terms of the city’s settlement with Neal and his attorney, Judd McPherson, to the city attorney and McPherson.

McPherson declined to discuss the terms, but assistant city attorney Peter Edwards said the amount of the settlement was $5,000. Edwards said the settlement was reached last week.

He said Neal gave full release to the city and Knisley for any claims arising from his arrest and what happened at the jail. No lawsuit had been filed, he said.

“The city saw a situation where we had liability, and we tried to take care of it early,” Edwards said.

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Libby Duncan February 7, 2009 | 9:38 p.m.

The reason I am making a comment on this is because my daughter had a much worse encounter with the Joplin Police. I am afraid for her because of the fact the police have the power to lead citizens to believe they can do no wrong. I have to give thanks to the victim in this article because he stood up and was able to get help from the right people. I have no idea what I can do. I am hoping that somewhere out there someone can help my daughter find the justice that she deserves against a power that is in my opinion out of control. My daughter was sitting on the curb locked out of her car - her cell phone in the car, she ended up nearly losing 2 fingertips and being transfered by ambulance from the Joplin Police Department. We got that phone call (that parents DO NOT WANT to recieve) she said "mom i'm in the hospital". Where she stayed for 3 days. Her doctor said that he saw HOPE for her fingers and spent hours saving them. The female officer had shut Marys middle and ring finger in the door and left her like that for what the officer said for " I don't know how long" her comment at the hearing. All of this information is available to the public, I would encourage everyone to protect thier rights as Mary's were not (NO miranda rights or phone call). We had to hire a lawyer from Kansas City to get her police report and video of her supposed drunken episode. NO VIDEO! They lost them. She had gone to an engagement get together yes there was alcohol but Mary was the designated driver. That was her choice NOT to drink and she DIDN'T. Witnesses will testify. Her blood was taken and a complete physical of her mobility was conducted at the hospital. The police officer didn't do any of this. He had no reason to even stop, maybe to offer a cell phone so Mary could call us or a slimjim to open her car for her. The only thing she did wrong was locking herself out of her car on a cold night and had the misfortune of Joplin Police officer Trevor Duncan driving by when he was off duty (his own words). As you can see I am not just a mom who wants to believe her child I DO BELIEVE HER! She has proven herself a victim at every turn in long and horrible journey that she is forced to participate in just because of an officer- on what I can only say has a power trip (2 years on the job). I know that Thursday Feb. 12 that I will go to the sentencing for my daughter and hold her hand no matter what happens! And I will be proud of her like always! And that her justice will be bittersweet. So, this is our story and you should consider if you have children one day they could also need help and he/she may be lucky enough to get a great officer who is there to SERVE and PROTECT.I just want people to see Mary as a person,not just some police report. If you can give us ANY advice on who we can call or what we should do to get Marys story known I would appreciate your input. So I guess that I am asking for help and I hope that someone CAN give us a helping hand.

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