Appeals court won’t touch award to Narragansett tribal member 8-07

Boston, Massachusetts (AP) - A federal appeals court has declined to review a $300,000 jury award for a member of the Narragansett Indian tribe whose ankle was broken during a 2003 state police raid on a tribal smoke shop.

But the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals decision, while upholding the jury verdict, also opened the door to a new trial.

“At this time, a new trial, in which all the issues can be assessed afresh, appears to us the best solution,” wrote Chief Judge Michael Boudin and Circuit Judge Sandra Lynch in their ruling.

A jury in March 2005 found that Trooper Ken Jones used excessive force against Adam Jennings, a worker at the shop, and awarded Jennings $301,100. But that summer, U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres reversed the award and ruled state troopers used reasonable force.

A panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals this past March said Jones did violate Jennings’ constitutional right to be free of excessive force, and reinstated the award.

On Friday, the full appeals court ruled that it won’t review that decision.

A spokesman for Attorney General Patrick Lynch said his office would review the ruling, and likely would seek a motion for a new trial to defend Jones.

State Police raided the shop located on tribal lands in Charlestown on July 14, 2003, to stop the Narragansetts from selling tax-free tobacco. Television news crews videotaped the raid.

During the confrontation, troopers wrestled Jennings to the ground, using an ankle turn control technique to subdue him and breaking his ankle in the process.

Jennings testified during trial that he was cooperating with state troopers and did not resist arrest. But state police said Jennings writhed and tried to prevent troopers from handcuffing him.