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$92M Award in NY Police Case

May 19, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ A jury awarded $92 million Thursday to a plaintiff who sued the city after a police officer’s bullet left him paralyzed five years ago.

The judgment in favor of Jason Rodriguez, now 22, more than doubled the $41 million awarded him by another jury last summer _ a verdict that was thrown out on appeal. City attorneys said they would appeal again.

``It’s an outrageous verdict, very much against the weight of the evidence in this case,″ said Daniel Connolly, special counsel for the city.

The award includes $75 million for future pain and suffering and $10.5 million for future medical care, said David Dean, an attorney for the plaintiff.

Dean said the total ``may be high, but what would you take to be paralyzed from age 17 on?″

The excessive-force lawsuit alleged the off-duty officer, David Dugan, shot Rodriguez twice after the teen had complied with orders to halt and drop his gun after a dispute on a Brooklyn street. One of the bullets shattered his spine.

The defense claimed that Dugan _ who was never charged criminally and is still on the force _ only fired after Rodriguez refused to freeze and pointed his gun at the officer. A civilian witness backed the officer’s version of the 1995 incident, Connolly said.

Dugan ``took the action he should have taken, which was to defend himself and others,″ Connolly said.

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