Brandon Atwater, '10, Represents Elderly Woman Physically Abused By Officers
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Posted by: Jordan Uhl
E: firstname.lastname@example.org; P: 202-274-5257
Washington, DC—A general inquiry at an IRS office turned into a physical altercation for an elderly woman in Durham, North Carolina.
Luckily, Brandon Atwater, '10, represented the victim and reached a settlement with the officers responsible and their employer, a contractor with the Federal Protective Service.
Phyllis Thomas-Thorpe, an elderly woman suffering from MS, sought assistance at the IRS office in Durham, but shortly after arriving, a security officer dragged her out of the office by her ankles despite Thorpe's patronage being well within the facility's operating hours.
Thorpe called the police, who didn't provide the necessary assistance, before seeking medical assistance. A few days later, the officer claimed Thomas-Thorpe had assaulted him and pressed state criminal charges against her.
Atwater describes the process:
"Recalling what I learned in the GAP clinic, I filed a FOIA request with the Federal Government, seeking information related to the incident at issue. While the Federal Government released some materials, most of it was heavily redacted. However, based on a series of emails that I obtained it was clear that there was a surveillance video of the incident. However, the video was withheld citing privacy concerns. Notwithstanding the federal government’s refusal to release the video, I later obtained a copy of the video of the incident by directly subpoenaing it from the private company which installed and maintained the surveillance system for the facility. After the video was uncovered, the criminal charges against my client were dismissed. Thereafter, I filed a federal torts claim with the Federal Government and a lawsuit against the guards and the FPS contractor. "
“After much of back and forth, the matter has recently been settled and my client is pleased with the outcome. She looks forward to moving on with her life and hopes that her case, in some way, will help change the way officers interact with the community,” Atwater said.
Watch the shocking security camera footage here: