Federal appeals court rules

A federal appeals court ruled last week that a jury should decide whether the rights of a Sturgis resident were violated by officers from the Sturgis Police Department.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday rendered its opinion regarding the 2010 incident involving then-20-year-old Charles Smith over the theft of a phone charger from Walgreens in Sturgis.

Officers Damon Knapp and Mark Stonebrunner investigated the incident and allegedly used excessive force when attempting to arrest Smith at his residence. Attorneys for Smith claim their client’s head was slammed against a wall as officers handcuffed him, and he also sustained a wrist injury as a result of handcuffs being locked too tightly around his wrists.

Lawyers on behalf of the city indicated Smith was resisting arrest and the force was warranted in order to get him to comply with police. Smith was charged with third-degree retail fraud but he eventually pleaded to a lesser misdemeanor of disturbing the peace.

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