JONESBORO — The Jonesboro Police Department on Tuesday voted to reject a settlement offer from a man who sued a police officer for using excessive force.
Jenna Adams, an attorney defending officer Heath Loggains on behalf of the city, recommended rejecting the $150,000 settlement offer from Arthur Bryant, who was attacked by a police dog under Loggains’ control on May 20, 2020 while police were pursuing another man who had fled from a traffic stop.
Adams recommended a $25,000 “offer of judgment, plus reasonable attorney fees.”
Adams said the offer of judgment would mean Loggains would accept liability.
Because it’s early in the litigation process, Adams said the offer of judgment could save a substantial amount of money, while still providing compensation to the victim.
“If plaintiff does not accept this $25,000 offer of judgment, and we weren’t able to settle this case, then this case ends up going to trial,” Adams explained. “At trial, plaintiff has to get more than $25,000 in order to recover all of his attorney’s fees and costs.”
Adams said the offer of judgment would freeze attorney fees to the amount the lawyers have earned up to the time the offer was made.
Bryant’s medical expenses resulting from the dog bites totaled about $1,900, Adams said.
According to the federal civil rights lawsuit, Bryant was a resident of the Links Apartments on May 29, 2020, when police were chasing a suspect on foot following a traffic stop. The suspect, Dominic Claybrooks, was later charged with drug possession and other offenses.
While officers were chasing Claybrooks, Bryant was standing outside his apartment, smoking a cigarette, with his hands visible under a streetlight, according to Bryant’s complaint. Thinking Bryant was the suspect, Loggains ordered Cash, his service dog, to attack.
Bryant’s attorney, Scott Palmer of Dallas, said Loggains never apologized to Bryant for the mistaken attack, other than to say, “wrong place, wrong time.”
However, in an incident report on the dog bite, the lawsuit said Loggains acknowledged the mistake.
“The male victim (Bryant) was standing on the sidewalk and I thought it was the subject we were chasing,” Loggains wrote. “As Kg Cash hit the victim I observed a dark shadow running on the opposite side of victim #1 I attempted to call Kg Cash off but he was already in midair.”
Bryant’s complaint alleges that Loggains allowed the dog to bite Bryant for 10 seconds before releasing him. Afterward, police put Bryant in handcuffs, according to the lawsuit.
Bryant’s lawsuit seeks financial compensation, including punitive damages for physical injury, pain and suffering, permanent physical disfigurement, emotional distress, torment and mental anguish, lost wages and medical expenses.
The Arkansas Municipal League, which provides civil legal defense for the city, will cover 90 percent of the cost of a settlement or judgment in the case, while the city will be responsible for 10 percent, Adams said.
If the city’s offer is not accepted by Bryant or an alternative settlement isn’t reached, a trial is scheduled for mid-June.
This is the third lawsuit in which Loggains has been a named as defendant in his capacity as a Jonesboro police officer.
In June 2021, Loggains reached a confidential settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chris Finley, father of Christopher Grant Finley.
That lawsuit claimed Loggains used excessive force when he fired multiple gunshots inside Chris Finley’s home on Walnut Street on April 14, 2015. That lawsuit was filed in May 2018.
Prior to that, Loggains was among police defendants who were named in a lawsuit filed by Thurstle Mullen of Cordova, Tenn.
Mullen, who represented himself in that lawsuit, claimed he was the victim of an unprovoked attack at a local nightclub and fought back.
Despite being the victim, Mullen said Loggains and fellow officer Daniel Gifford used excessive force to detain him.
“Even though Plaintiff Mullen was physically in the custody of Officer Gifford, Officer Loggains, who had by now walked up to the passenger door, reached in and grabbed Plaintiff Mullen by his face and his left ear and dragged the Plaintiff out of the car headfirst … without regard to possible risk of severe pain or injury, causing the Plaintiff to suffer severe pain to his face, nose and left ear,” Mullen complained in his lawsuit, filed May 20, 2016.
Mullen said he was held without bail for three days on suspicion of felony charges until a detective reviewed the file and determined no felony crime had been committed.
The case was dismissed on a joint motion by Mullen and the city’s attorneys on June 9, 2017. The court document didn’t indicate whether there had been a financial settlement.