Jury awards paralyzed Kwethluk man $23M

Bethel, Alaska (AP) November 2010

A Bethel jury has awarded more than $23 million to a Kwethluk man who was paralyzed when he was arrested by two village police officers.

Forty-six-year-old Phillip Nick was left a quadriplegic in the September 2009 arrest in the western Alaska village, 12 miles east of Bethel.

KYUK radio in Bethel says Kwethluk city officer Elia Sergie and tribal officer Martin Alexie handcuffed Nick and dragged to a four-wheeler even after he hit his head hard on the ground, saying his neck was broken.

The jury last week found the city of Kwethluk negligent in the transport of Nick and in the hiring of Sergie.

KYUK says the court case focused on Sergie only because Alexie was hired by the tribal government, which is considered a sovereign entity and cannot be taken to court.