Motorcyclist awarded $180,000 after encounter with police

A federal jury ruled this week that an Oregon State policeman violated a Eugene man's civil rights by using excessive force during a traffic stop in 2012. The motorcyclist, Justin Wilkens, was speeding when he passed Captain Rob Edwards' parked, unmarked Camaro police interceptor, according to the Register-Guard. Edwards' attempted to pull over Wilkens, who claimed he didn't realize he was being chased due to the Camaro's small, grille-mounted light bar and the fact that Edwards did not use his siren. Wilkens eventually pulled over at the intersection of Crow Road and Highway 126. Edwards then rammed Wilkens' bike, knocking him to the ground. Edwards exited his car, kicked Wilkens in the chest as he was standing up, and drew his service weapon.

After viewing the video evidence from the dashcam and roughly four hours of deliberation, a jury found in favor of Wilkens' excessive force claim. The jury also determined that Captain Edwards acted with negligence when he rear-ended Wilkens' motorcycle, but did not violate Wilkens' rights when he pointed his weapon at Wilkens and used force to handcuff and pull the rider to his feet. Wilkens was awarded more than $180,000 in total damages, including $31,000 in economic damages to cover his medical expenses and repairs to his motorcycle, and nearly $50,000 in punitive damages. Minutes after U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Coffin read the verdict, Wilkens told the Register-Guard, "I'm just happy as heck." Neither Captain Edwards nor his attorneys were able to give statements about the verdict.

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