Friday, October 09, 2009

Russellville Officers in Court for Beating Death

A federal appeals court has refused to drop a lawsuit against five Russellville policemen.

The family of Bobby Lee Rylee says he died after the policemen beat him.

The case has been in the Federal Appeals Court for nearly six months and the court's decision will allow it to go to trial. The Rylee family's lawyers say they are pleased the case will finally be back in motion.

Three years after 61-year-old's death, the plaintiff's lawyer Charles Harrison says, the family is still terribly troubled and upset. Harrison charges that Rylee was a victim of police brutality.

"He was a peaceful man that did not deserve the beating that he received and it's still a horrific event for them to think that that's the way that their father left this earth," he said.

Russellville police say they pulled Rylee over just after 1 a.m. in July 2006 for acting strange and veering out of his lane. When they tried to arrest him, they say Rylee resisted, hit one officer and stabbed another with a pen, so they called for backup. By the time the fight was over, Rylee suffered a broken neck, legs and had several bruises on his head. Pictures are too graphic to show.

The officers argue Rylee broke his neck when he fell on the pavement, along with two other officers, but the family's lawyer is skeptical.

"Our position and we think our evidence will show is that his neck was broken during the course of this beating and stomping and kicking," said Harrison.

Defense Lawyers for officers Lee Goemmer, Bobby Stevens, Keith Spears, Terry Cob and Todd Winesburg say, the policemen used just enough force to subdue Rylee and the whole scuffle could have been avoided if he had cooperated with the officers.

In addition, Defense Attorney Keith Wren says the victim refused medical treatment when he was arrested and taken to the Pope County detention center. Riley died five days later in the hospital.

"While we recognize that he was injured during the incident, and that may have ultimately led to his death, that doesn't necessarily mean that the force that was used was excessive," said Wren.

Earlier in the case, the court ordered the defense to attend a settlement conference, but the two parties couldn't resolve the case. The trial is expected to start sometime early to mid-2010.

One of the police officers involved was suspended for a brief period, but all five are back on the force.

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