Sheriff: Settlement reflects no wrongdoing by Pitkin County jailer
ASPEN ” A Pitkin County jailer’s job is secure in the wake of a $60,000 settlement made with a woman who alleged her constitutional rights were violated the morning she was incarcerated, the sheriff said Wednesday.
Sheriff Bob Braudis said the settlement Deputy Walt Geister made with plaintiff Bronwyn Anglin, of Basalt, did not reflect an admission of wrongdoing by the jailer. Instead, paying off Anglin and not going to a jury trial, which was scheduled Feb. 9 in the U.S. District Court in Denver, was strictly a “business decision” made by the county’s insurance provider, Braudis said.
“Walt’s job is not tarnished. Walt’s job is safe,” Braudis said. “He is an intelligent and sensitive man. He did not violate anybody’s civil rights, and I’m proud of his 20 years of service.”
The money won’t come out of Geister’s pockets, the sheriff said, noting that the county’s insurer will pick up the bill because the county met its $ 25,000 deductible in the case. Braudis said the insurance carrier made the ultimate call not to take the case to trial, because it was estimated that it would cost $ 250,000 to defend Geister. The trial had been scheduled for four days.
“We wanted to go to trial,” Braudis said, adding that a three-and-a-half hour settlement conference Jan. 20 in Denver, which both Geister and Braudis attended, proved futile.
But the next day, Geister’s attorney, Josh A. Marks of Boulder, called Braudis to tell him a settlement had been struck. Anglin’s attorney, David Lane, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
The settlement comes after Anglin sued Braudis, Geister, the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, Dr. Chris Martinez, Aspen Valley Hospital, two paramedics, the city of Aspen and three members of the police department from an incident in the Pitkin County jail on Dec. 11, 2004. The suit was filed in Denver’s federal court in December 2006.
Anglin’s suit contended a number of her constitutional rights were violated the morning she was injected with anti psychotic medication while she was at the jail. Anglin claimed that by forcibly tranquilizing her, officials denied her rights to free speech, due process and her right to be free from unreasonable seizure.
But as the case moved forward, then Judge Edward Nottingham dismissed all of Anglin’s claims, with the exception of one against Geister, court documents show.
The surviving accusation was a 14th Amendment claim against Geister, who was working at the jail the night in question.
Nottingham had ruled that Geister’s role in the incident was unclear, chiefly because Geister told hospital officials that Anglin was combative and banging her head against the cell door, which promoted Dr. Martinez to inject her. Anglin had maintained that Geister’s report was false and had it not been made, she would not have been sedated.
Anglin’s lawsuit had claimed that when she went to the Pitkin County jail to check on a friend, two police officers threatened to sedate her if she did not calm down.
All of this happened after Anglin was incarcerated shortly following her visit to the jail, where she had used her cell phone to call 911 repeatedly from the jail house lobby, apparently because officers would not let Anglin bond her friend out of jail. The reason she was not allowed to bond out her friend, Nottingham wrote, was because Anglin “was not a sober, responsible party,” a condition fueled by her consumption of some four or five glasses of wine earlier that evening.
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