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Posts Tagged ‘beat to death’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   SEPTEMBER 26, 2011

Eureka Officers Viciously Beat Martin and Left Him to Die in Jail Cell

Eureka, CA: A jury delivered a resounding victory for plaintiffs in a police misconduct civil rights case by awarding the total sum of $4,575,000 against the City of Eureka and Eureka police officers Adam Laird, Justin Winkle, and Gary Whitmer for the death of Martin Cotton II. Punitive damages were assessed against the three officers. Mr. Cotton, a 26 year-old man living on the streets died of blunt force head trauma. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Vicki I. Sarmiento of Los Angeles County, were Mr. Cotton’s 5 year-old daughter and his father. The jury found that Officers Laird and Winkle used excessive force, and that all three officers failed to provide medical care.

 

On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Winkle, Laird, Whitmer, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. In broad daylight, officers pummeled Mr. Cotton’s head and body then brought Mr. Cotton to jail, failing to seek medical assistance for him. Expert testimony presented by the plaintiffs established that timely medical care would have saved Mr. Cotton’s life. Mr. Cotton died in the jail cell within two hours.

 

Painful video of Mr. Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial.

 

The fatal beating of Mr. Cotton occurred outside the Eureka Rescue Mission. Police were dispatched to the Mission for a disturbance involving Mr. Cotton. When they arrived, Mr. Cotton was no longer in the Mission and was alone and defenseless. Laird and Winkle claim they ordered him to put his hands behind his back and he did not move. Both officers pepper sprayed him, Officer Winkle kneed him in the ribs and forced him to the ground where the officers beat him. Mr. Cotton made no moves against the police and remained prone on the concrete. Officer Whitmer (the third officer on the scene) gave a running kick to Mr. Cotton, battered him with a baton, and pepper-sprayed him. More officers arrived and joined in the beating. The trial of Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka included police readily admitting they they sat on Mr. Cotton, forced his head onto the concrete throughout the beating, kicked him, hit him with a metal baton, kneed at his vulnerable organs, deployed pepper spray three times, and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The officers, however, denied hitting Mr. Cotton in the head, most likely because blunt force head trauma was determined as the cause of death.  Crucial testimony came from two civilian witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least Officer Winkle pounding on Mr. Cotton’s skull multiple times on the concrete. One witness said he heard “fist-to-skull”, “bone-on-bone” from those head strikes.

 

The verdict was announced September 23, 2011 after a two week trial and 7 hours of jury deliberation in Federal Court in Oakland. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain her father suffered and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to show that the officers’ actions “shocked the conscience.” The jury also found that the officers acted with “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, and assessed punitive damages, $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer.

 

Mr. Cotton was one of many people killed by police in the Humboldt region from fall 2005 to fall 2007. 

 

Attorney Vicki Sarmiento hopes the verdict sends shockwaves to other officers who may consider committing such atrocities in the future. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else. We as a community, we as a society, cannot tolerate it.” Ms. Sarmiento speaks of the victory, “The jury’s decision showed respect for Martin Cotton’s life. They acknowledge the wrong that occurred and acknowledge that Martin’s life had value. The issue of human dignity and humanity is what this is about, and that everyone has a right to have that.”

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Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police (VIDEO included)

This link will also bring you to the video-taped interview from after the verdict.  Video is also below.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/23/18691150.php

Greetings,

The resounding jury decision could not have happened without the years of dedication by Redwood Curtain CopWatch; the courage, strength, and graciousness of Marty Cotton Sr.; the critical solidarity and organizing of the Oscar Grant Committee; the generosity of a few righteous Oakland attorneys; the networking and sharing of resources by Berkeley CopWatch; the bravery of the civilian witnesses to tell the truth; and the sharp, brilliant, hard work from the Cottons’ attorneys, Vicki I. Sarmiento and Dale K. Galipo.

Solidarity from people in and near Oakland throughout the trial – some being folks in the IWW, the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, the SDS and MDS – has been so important.

Having read yesterday’s article from the Eureka Times-Standard, I want to make something clear.  Contrary to how the local Humboldt mainstream media would like to misconstrue reality, the Eureka cops, through their brutal punches and slamming of Martin’s head on the concrete, then throwing him in a cell without medical help, killed Martin.  The cops caused his painful death and used their hands to do it. And the jury got a grave understanding of that, and decided on a “wrongful death” verdict.

This federal jury decision in the Cotton case is a victory and gift for the people. I hope that people who live outside, live on the streets in and around Eureka can breathe easier; feel proud for the marching, protesting and speaking out about Martin’s death; and also feel some vindication because the brazen intimidation and violence that the cops inflict on people living on the streets has been officially recognized.  

Thank You, Martin “Fred” Cotton. 

We will continue to work together for DIGNITY for all lives.

Long Live Martin Cotton!  Long Live Troy Davis! 
Long Live the Strength of the People and Power of the Truth! ~Verbena

Below is a great summary.

Martin Cotton Family Awarded Over $4.5 Million in Trial Against Eureka Police, Interview: Video

by dave id  Friday Sep 23rd, 2011

On August 9th, 2007, Eureka police officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer, Adam Laird, and five others were involved in beating an unarmed Martin Cotton II to death. Eureka police pummeled Martin Cotton’s body and head in broad daylight, using pepper spray repeatedly. Martin Cotton was then sent to jail without being offered medical treatment. He died in jail within about an hour. A federal civil rights lawsuit in Oakland was filed to seek justice for Martin on behalf of his young daughter. The case, Siehna Cotton et al v. City of Eureka, included the testimony of police readily admitting they beat Martin Cotton all over his body and did not seek medical assistance for him afterward. The police however denied that they hit Martin Cotton in the head, most likely because blows to the head were determined to be the cause of death.

 

At about 1pm on September 23rd, the verdict was announced for the two-week trial. A seven-person jury found unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs, big time. Siehna Cotton was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain Martin Cotton suffered at the hands of Eureka police and $2,750,000 for wrongful death damages. Additionally, Marty Cotton Sr. was awarded $500,000, which required plaintiffs to meet the highest burden of proof in a civil trial, that is that the murder of Martin Cotton “shocked the conscience.” A rare award of punitive damages against the three officers required a finding of “malice, oppression, or reckless disregard” to the decedent’s or plaintiffs’ rights, for which the jury assessed $30,000 from officer Winkle, $30,000 from officer Laird, and $15,000 from officer Whitmer, who arrived at the scene late but joined in on the beating.

 

Crucial to the verdict was the testimony of two witnesses who bravely reported that they had indeed seen at least officer Winkle striking Martin Cotton’s skull. Painful video of Martin Cotton dying in jail was presented during the trial which obviously effected jurors, four of whom wore black in solidarity with the family today as the verdict was read.

 

In the video below, Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento and Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch speak about the verdict re-establishing Martin Cotton’s humanity and the shockwaves they hope the decision will send through the ranks of police who may consider committing such atrocities in the future.

martincotton_verdict-interview_092311.jpg

[Pictured above: Verbena Lea of Redwood Curtain CopWatch and Cotton family attorney Vicki Sarmiento]

Quote from MDS, SDS, and Oscar Grant Committee:
“This victory uplifts our spirits and gives us strength to step up the struggle against police violence, brutality, murder and other forms of state repression that occur on a regular basis. One victory , many battles
still to be fought”

 

http://www.indybay.org/js/flowplayer/FlowPlayer.swf

Video-Taped Interview from after the Verdict

Also, the below links are to video from the Sept. 21st press conference held in front of the Federal Building in Oakland:

http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/907.

or

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/22/18691008.php

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TRIAL BEGAN SEPTEMBER 12, 2011 at 8:30am

[RALLY at 7:30am on 12th, first day of trial]

Trial Wed (9/14), Thurs (9/15), Friday (9/16), Wed (9/21)  
8:30am- 2:30pm  
Must have U.S. ID or Passport to go in

READ UPDATES:  1  2  3

Please join Redwood Curtain CopWatch in attending the trial.  We are organizing with groups in the Bay Area also.  If you are interested in going to Oakland for any part of the trial, please get in contact: copwatchrwc@riseup.net   707.633.4493
More on Martin’s death here.

TO DOWNLOAD ABOVE FLIER: http://redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/files/Flier_CottonTrial.jpg

 

*JURY TRIAL in FEDERAL COURT in OAKLAND*

begins Monday, Sept 12th 8:30am
1301 Clay St. 4
th floor, Courtroom #1
Oakland, CA
U.S. District Court- Northern District

                 

PLEASE JOIN SEPT 12 RALLY OUTSIDE COURT 7:30AM


Be PRESENT at the trial:
Mon 9/12 Wed 9/14 Thurs 9/15 Fri 9/16 Wed 9/21


Dignity for ALL… Justice for Martin Cotton!

UPDATES:  

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/09/15/18690439.php

http://www.redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/900

Redwood Curtain CopWatch: 707.633.4493  copwatchrwc@riseup.net
Oscar Grant Committee: 510.655.5764


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Martin F. Cotton II was BEAT TO DEATH by Eureka Police and Humboldt Sheriff’s on August 9th, 2007. 

Please join us Tuesday August 9th, 2011 in Remembrance of Martin Cotton and in Resistance to the injustice system that took his life.

Martin Cotton won’t be forgotten!  Stop Police Brutality

—1:00pm RALLY

in front of the Courthouse in Eureka

and Walk to the Boardwalk

for peaceful REMEMBRANCE of Martin

We have plenty of signs, some from past demonstrations and a bunch from folks in the Bay area- sent in support of Justice for Martin Cotton

Then, later on…

—6:00pm  “Tell It Like It Is!” Open Mic: Survival Stories about Police Violence

at Synapsis 47 W 3rd Street, Eureka

light dinner and refreshments

music, poetry, spoken word, any way you want to express your experience, or just be there!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUT ON COTTON DAY or organize in the near future for public presence at the civil rights trial set to begin in September against the City of Eureka and County of Humboldt, please contact Redwood Curtain CopWatch.  707.633.4493  copwatchrwc@riseup.net

Click the link below to hear a song for Martin Cotton by Two Smooth Stones. 

Cotton Day Song

***

Every year, people gather in Eureka on August 9th to protest the violence of the police, coverups of truth, abusive acts against houseless people, and the insane and cruel behavior of the state toward those of us experiencing emotional or mental crises. Martin Cotton’s death requires us to examine all of these inhumanities.

We also gather to remember Martin (or Freddy, as he is also known by many), to honor and support his family, and to share and connect in a good way with other survivors of police brutality and intimidation. Martin’s brutal death was witnessed by many houseless people, causing them great trauma and fear. Speaking out against the violence UNITES and EMPOWERS us. We are learning to defend each other and share healing and strength- so many of us, hurt and frightened.

We insist on dignified and compassionate treatment of ALL people.

If you can help with food, signs, candles, or ideas, please get in contact. Participate in this protest of police violence, help create a space of honoring and peace for Martin’s spirit and his family, and tell it like it is at the open mic!

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Did you know That the Eureka Rescue Mission…

prohibits gay people from being there?

Did you know that the Mission

sends out spies to watch what people do when they are not at the Mission, and kicks them out if found, for instance, smoking pot?

Did you know that

even after Martin Cotton was beat to death by Eureka Police in front of many people who stay at the Mission, and even though the police target people who are homeless and stay at the Mission, Bryan Hall (Mission Director) has the men who use the Mission do free labor cleaning up around the police station?

Recently, Bryan Hall, was overheard talking with Eureka Police Officers on the phone about “cleaning up” behind the Ingomar Club- and “running everyone [homeless people] out of there.”

Did you know?…

When Bryan Hall, who was the Mission’s House Manager when Martin Cotton was fatally beaten by the cops, LIED PUBLICLY and said that the cops did nothing excessive to Martin, he [Bryan] was ON PAROLE?

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On August 9, 2007, Martin Frederick Cotton II was brutally beat to death– and refused medical treatment -by Eureka Police and Humboldt County Sheriff “Correctional Officers” (in the jail).

Since September of 2008, there has been a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by Martin Cotton’s baby daughter (through a legal guardian) and by his father, Martin F. Cotton.

 

There is a trial scheduled in the Federal Court in Oakland in front of Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong and a jury WHICH WAS JUST POSTPONED (Dec 15, 2010). There will be at least ten cops exposed and on trial for killing Martin.

Please begin organizing where you live to be there and make sure that it is known what these cops have done, what violence this system inflicts, and we want it to be understood- We will not tolerate intimidation, beatings, and murder by the police!!

 

Redwood Curtain CopWatch will be organizing people to travel to the Bay area to be present at the trial.  If you are in the Bay Area (or anywhere somewhat close), please organize support and presence in your area.   And if you can help folks from Humboldt get there, contact Redwood Curtain CopWatch.

 

http://redwoodcurtaincopwatch.net/node/632

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