COLUMBIA — The Columbia man whose beating by a Columbia police officer sparked a debate over police personnel records is seeking $1 million in damages in federal court.
Columbia resident Rodman Marine, 31, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 18, 2009, seeking compensation for injuries he alleges he received at the hands of former Columbia police officer Justin LaForest during a Dec. 2006 traffic stop.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri, names LaForest and five other defendants:
- the Columbia Police Department
- former Columbia police chief Randy Boehm
- the City of Columbia
- the Citizens Police Review Board
- Boone County
Edward Stump, the Kansas City attorney who is representing Marine, said the suit names any person or entity that influences police policy. He said the defendants have until mid-April to respond to the suit.
According to the complaint filed with the court, at about 8:20 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2006, Marine was the passenger in a car near his home on the 200 block of Unity Drive. He got out of the car and began to walk toward the apartment complex where he was staying when he saw a patrol car had pulled up behind the vehicle.
LaForest, who was driving the patrol car, drew his gun on Marine and told him to get in the car. LaForest stopped the vehicle because of a defective taillight, according to the complaint.
Marine remained still for fear of being shot by LaForest, according to the complaint. After repeated commands that Marine get back into the car, LaForest fired his Taser at Marine's leg. The probes fired from the Taser punctured Marine's skin, but the device did not shock him. LaForest then approached Marine, knocked him to the ground with his police-issued baton, and struck him in the head multiple times while he lay on the ground, the suit alleges.
Marine stood up, but LaForest knocked him to the ground again. Backup units arrived, and another officer fired a Taser at Marine. After Marine was taken into custody, he was searched, and officers found marijuana, a scale and plastic bags.
Marine asked for medical attention, according to the complaint. The medical staff at Boone Hospital Center found that Marine had cuts, bruises, and several facial fractures, including a broken jaw and eye socket.
After the department conducted an internal investigation, a letter dated Feb. 8, 2007 was sent to Marine, stating that LaForest's actions had been found "improper" and that he had resigned from the department before disciplinary action was taken against him.
LaForest is now an officer with the Ashland Police Department. He did not return a phone call Tuesday.