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Suspect Sues Cop And Loses, Judge Orders Suspect To Pay The Officer’s Expenses

Topeka, KS – A federal grand jury cleared a Topeka police officer of wrongdoing amid allegations he used excessive force while arresting a suspect in 2018, resulting in the judge ordering his accuser to pay the officer’s legal expenses.

The grand jury deliberated for approximately two-and-one-half hours on June 2 before determining Topeka Police Officer Christopher Janes did not violate 38-year-old Timothy Harris’ Constitutional rights during the Jan. 23, 2018 arrest, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

U.S. District Judge Dan Crabtree subsequently ordered Harris to pay for Officer Janes’ attorney fees, which were sitting at $37,688.05 in January, prior to the three-day trial.

The total figure Harris will be required to pay was not specified.

“The court orders that plaintiff recovers nothing, the action is dismissed on the merits, and defendant Christopher Janes recover costs from plaintiff,” Crabtree’s order read, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

It was unknown whether or not Harris plans to appeal the ruling.

Harris had sued the officer for $1 million, plus his legal expenses, which were listed at $197,120.55 in mid-January.

He originally included the City of Topeka in his lawsuit, alleging that the city’s “training and supervision policies were the moving force behind the alleged constitutional violations,” the City of Topeka said in a statement after the verdict was announced, according to WIBW.

“In the course of the litigation, extensive discovery was conducted, including how the City trains officers and supervises them,” the statement read. “The Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his claims against the City, and the case went to jury trial on May 31, 2022 against Janes.”

“After a three-day trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Officer Janes, finding that he did not use excessive force against the Plaintiff,” the city added. “No money was awarded to the Plaintiff. The City is pleased with the jury’s verdict. The Plaintiff has the opportunity to appeal, and as such, the City will not comment further on the matter.”

Harris’ attorney, Ben Stelter-Embry, said he and his client were disappointed by the verdict, WIBW reported.

“Obviously we’re disappointed, but the jury in its wisdom didn’t agree with our side of what happened,” Stelter-Embry said. “That’s the judicial system and it did what it supposed to do.”

The encounter between Harris and Officer Janes began after police received a complaint from Harris’ ex-girlfriend that he had stolen property from her, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Officer Janes then discovered Harris had an outstanding arrest warrant for violating the conditions of his probation.

Harris had been placed on community supervision following a conviction for interfering with law enforcement and possession of drug paraphernalia, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Officer Janes was out on patrol in the area of Golden Avenue and SE 10th shortly after 7 p.m. when he spotted Harris sitting behind the wheel of an illegally-parked vehicle.

Bodycam footage showed Harris getting out of his vehicle before finally complying with Officer Janes’ repeated orders to stay in the car, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Officer Janes explained to Harris that he was being detained, at which point Harris took off his jacket, threw down his lit cigarette, and again got out of the car, bodycam footage showed.

The officer unsuccessfully tried to get Harris to remain in the vehicle before he managed to get him into handcuffs, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Harris continued to resist and struggle with the officer as he was being led to the patrol car, and ultimately grabbed Officer Janes’ duty belt.

The officer responded by taking the suspect to the ground, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Officer Janes’ attorney, Allen Glendenning, said the suspect hit the pavement harder than his client had intended.

As the officer continued to hold the combative suspect on the ground while waiting for backup to arrive, “Harris again grabbed the officer’s duty belt,” the City of Topeka said in a statement in September of 2018, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Officer Janes responded by delivering “two fist strikes to Harris’s torso” and sprayed him with pepper spray, the city said.

Harris’s jaw was broken during the brawl, resulting in his jaw being wired shut for two months, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

He now has a metal plate in his face.

Glendenning told jurors they needed to determine “whether a reasonable officer on the scene without the benefit of hindsight would have used that much force under similar circumstances,” The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

He noted that the lone officer wasn’t required to “wait and see” whether or not Harris was able to reach the duty weapon he had on his belt, WIBW reported.

“He is entitled to bring this [situation] under control from the beginning,” Glendenning added.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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