Lawsuit claims officer injured teen at school

Staff WriterAugust 10, 2006 

— Three years ago, Carlos Partin was a student at Wakefield High School when he got involved in a cafeteria scuffle.

A school official plucked the other boy from the fray, and School Resource Officer A.N. Singh grabbed Carlos.

But it was after the fight that Carlos got hurt, according to a lawsuit filed in Wake Superior Court.

Carlos and his mother, Joyce Partin, are suing Singh and the city of Raleigh.

The court action alleges that Singh, a Raleigh police officer, acted with "reckless, unnecessarily excessive and wrongful force." The suit also accuses the city of negligence by failing to control police officers who engage in excessive force and by failing to properly train officers in safe methods of restraint.

After the adults broke up the fight, Singh lifted Carlos off the ground and slammed him down -- causing Carlos to hit his head on the floor, court filings say.

Then, Carlos had his first seizure, his attorney said Wednesday.

"He had never had a seizure before that," said Raleigh personal-injury lawyer Charles Putterman. "It's a significant injury in our estimation."

The lawsuit says that Joyce Partin is suing to recover "the substantial and extensive medical expenses" she incurred while her son, now 19, was a minor. Carlos Partin is seeking damages for violation of his civil rights as well as the alleged assault, battery and negligence.

Medical issues have persisted for Carlos since the 2003 incident, which caused significant trauma to his brain, Putterman said. Carlos suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder "and he continues to have migraines -- which he did not have prior to this incident," Putterman said.

"The child was flipped over the police officer so he landed head-first on the ground," Putterman said. "He struck the floor, and it was a tremendously hard floor."

A letter from a Durham lawyer who first represented the Partins was sent to City Attorney Thomas McCormick in November "spelling out the nature of the complaint," Putterman said, along with Carlos' medical records, medical bills and witness statements.

Putterman said the city is responsible for a police officer who engaged in wrongful conduct."

Putterman said that Carlos has received continuing treatment in the past three years. "It's not like a broken bone that mends and it's over and done with," he said. "The course of treatment for a head injury and a [post-traumatic stress disorder]-type case is longer-term."

The city has until Sept. 5 to file its response to the lawsuit.

"It's very early in the case, and there's nothing to comment on," said Assistant City Attorney Hunt Choi, declining to further discuss the case.

Singh, 29, is a school resource officer whose annual salary is $49,988, said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue.

Singh has been with the department since December 1998, became a sworn officer six months later and was promoted to master officer in December 2004.

Staff writer Cindy George can be reached at 829-4656 or cgeorge@newsobserver.com.

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