Clovis Police Department settles suit


A settlement has been reached in a civil rights lawsuit against the Clovis Police Department, the city of Clovis and a former Clovis police officer alleging excessive force during a traffic stop, according to U.S. District Court records.

The lawsuit alleged Charles Middleton, 39, of Colorado, was injured and insulted by then police officer David Lester during a traffic stop in August 2004.

Daniel Lindsey, Middleton’s attorney, termed the financial settlement as
“substantial,” but said he could not disclose the amount.

“My client is very happy with the settlement – he’s just tickled,” Lindsey said. “It was just terrible how he was treated. We look up to our police officers here in Clovis, and my client was happy to get it settled.”

Middleton was pulled over for speeding, and after passing a field sobriety test was charged with aggravated DWI and placed under arrest, the complaint alleged.

When Middleton told Lester his handcuffs were too tight, he alleged Lester called him a “moron” and taunted him about the cuffs, the complaint said.

Prosecutors later dismissed the DWI and speeding charges against Middleton, court records show.

Lindsey said the incident was captured on video.

City Manager Joe Thomas and Police Chief Dan Blair referred inquiries to city attorney Stephen G. French of Albuquerque, who did not return calls.

A telephone number for Lester could not be located.

A representative of the city’s Human Resources Department said Lester’s employment with the city ended Nov. 29, 2005, but said the city could not disclose the reason.