Settlement reached in SBPD excessive force lawsuit

SOUTH BEND, IND. -- After a lengthy legal battle, NewsCenter 16 has learned the city of South Bend reached a settlement with an elderly couple who accused police of using excessive force.

The case dates back to 2008, when Clifford and Alice Rosen were traveling on an Amtrak train that passed through South Bend.

The train departed late, which pushed back the time dinner would be served – a matter of concern to Clifford.

“Mr. Rosen is a Parkinson’s patient and, because of that, he takes medication,” Attorney Stan Wruble told NewsCenter 16 in 2012. “He needs to take that medication with meals. And, because of that, he inquired about the timing of the meal. And, I imagine he asked several folks when that was. He was probably pestering them at some point.”

Court documents claim an Amtrak employee witnessed Clifford trying to “physically intimidate” another worker, so the employee asked Clifford to return to his sleeper car.

When Clifford refused, the employee contacted police in South Bend – the nearest Amtrack stop – and requested they come remove an unruly passenger from the train.

When officers arrived, court documents say Clifford grasped the bed in his sleeper car for support, which officers interpreted as a threat.

So, they demanded he put his hands behind his back to be handcuffed, but Clifford didn’t move.

“Because of a childhood injury to his shoulder, he could not put his arm behind his back,” Wruble said in 2012. “The officers took Mr. Rosen down to the ground, they kicked him in the back, and they tasered him three times.”

The incident left the 71-year-old Parkinson’s patient with bruises all over his body and two torn ligaments in his arm.

Clifford was taken to the St. Joseph County Jail on charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct, but he blew a 0.00.

All charges against Clifford were dropped.

The Rosens decided to sue the city and the officers involved because of the trauma they experienced. Now, more than five years later, they've reached a $160,000 settlement.

"It was a long ordeal for them," Wruble said. "At the end of the day, this is a case I would have liked a jury to see and hear about and to give their opinion on. But, Mr. Rosen is in his late 70s and he felt a trial was not in his best interest."

Corporation counsel for the city of South Bend Cristal Brisco released a brief statement on the case, saying, "As with each case, we weigh possible outcomes, and here we chose resolution through mediation."

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