Posted: Jan 28, 2011 5:14 AM by Bea Karnes
DENVER (AP)-A Denver police officer who appeared as a contestant on "American Gladiators" has been cleared in a civil lawsuit alleging excessive force and wrongful arrest.
A jury Thursday found no merit to allegations that Officer Vicki Ferrari roughed up the manager of a Grease Monkey and placed handcuffs on him tightly in order to cause him pain. The manager, David Kraus, had asked Ferrari in June 2007 to move her police cruiser that was blocking traffic.
Neither internal affairs nor the city's independent police monitor were able substantiate Kraus' claims.
During trial, lawyer David Lane argued that a profile used to promote Ferrari's appearance on the televised athletic competition showed the officer had a quick temper and she arrested Kraus in anger. The profile said the 5-foot-3 inch, 124-pound Ferrari had the nickname "pitbull" and was "charming and easy going with a lightning-quick temper."
City Attorney Stuart Shapiro, one of Ferrari's attorneys, said it was unclear what role the NBC show's promotional description of Ferrari played in the final outcome.
"She's not a huge, a big person," Shapiro said.
Ferrari was providing backup to other officers involved in a traffic stop and had parked in the shop's parking lot.
Ferrari testified during the trial that Kraus, who was carrying a loaded concealed handgun at the time, began yelling at her to move and she arrested him when he wouldn't stop. Charges of interference and a concealed weapons permit violation recommended against Kraus were dropped.
Lane said excessive force and wrongful arrest lawsuits are difficult because jurors go into the cases wanting to uphold law enforcement decisions.
"I respect juror's verdicts, even though I don't always agree," Lane said. "But we gave it our best."
Another federal lawsuit alleging excessive force is pending against Denver officer Abbegayle Dorn, another "American Gladiators" contestant.
NBC revived the late 1980s hit in 2008.