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Resident files civil rights suit against Phoenix police

He wants &

36;300,000 in damages for his arrest during a traffic check

Dogged by recent internal strife, Phoenix police officers now face a lawsuit alleging violation of civil rights.

Phoenix resident Robert Detrick is seeking &

36;300,000 in damages against the police department in a civil suit filed last week in Jackson County Circuit Court. The lawsuit also names the city, former Lt. Bob McKean and several officers as defendants.

Detrick, 77, says officers arrested him unlawfully and in a manner intended to scare and humiliate him after he resisted handing over his driver's license when they stopped him in November 2002.

Mr. Detrick was expressing an opinion, and that opinion had to do with personal right, said Detrick's attorney, Doug Gard of Medford. They retaliated because it was a challenge to their authority.

Detrick referred questions about the case to his attorney.

— Arresting drivers who fail to show their driver's license and can't otherwise identify themselves is typical police procedure, said Phoenix Police Chief Bob Kershaw. The chief said he knew of Detrick's case but didn't recall specifics of the arrest.

However, Detrick did eventually produce his driver's license after officers pulled over his 1982 Chevrolet Suburban on Fern Valley Road because the vehicle did not have a light on its rear license plate, Gard said. Officers could not legally arrest Detrick after he handed over his license, which is documented in police reports, Gard said.

They had five cars there with lights going, Gard said.

After Detrick spent the night in jail, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office did not file charges against him, according to court records. Detrick was booked in jail shortly before 9 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2002, and released at 9:45 the next morning.

Detrick has no criminal record in Jackson County, court records show.

Detrick's refusal to allow corrections deputies to take his photo and fingerprints may have resulted in an extended amount of time spent in jail, said Sgt. Dan Penland of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. Neither the county nor the jail is implicated in the suit.

McKean, who resigned from the police department a month ago amid personnel conflicts, said he recalled Detrick's arrest and characterized his interaction with officers as abnormal. Police reports state that officers coaxed Detrick to show them his driver's license about 20 minutes after pulling him over. Officers' reports note that Detrick's demeanor was angry and irrational.

In addition to McKean, Detrick's suit names as defendants officers Greg Bruce, B.J. Hyrst, Adam Lewis and former Phoenix officer Steve Bohn, recently hired by the Central Point Police Department. All five were present during Detrick's arrest, according to court documents.

Gard said the lawsuit is not prompted by recent turmoil within the police department. The attorney said he filed a notice of Detrick's intent to sue prior to last summer when Mc-Kean and veteran officer John Koury were suspended pending internal investigations.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail .