The Phenix City Council voted on Tuesday morning to pay a woman who claimed a police officer punched her in the eye a year ago $275,000 to settle the case.
Elizabeth Coty-Green and her husband, Spivey Green, had been seeking $1 million for the May 18, 2014, incident in which she said Phenix City Police Officer Mark Cameron punched her in the left eye, fracturing the eye socket.
Council voted 5-0 to settle with the couple. There was no public discussion. Cameron was disciplined, Police Chief Ray Smith said on Tuesday prior to the vote. Smith, citing a personnel matter, declined to disclose the action taken against Cameron, who is still with the force.
“We felt like this was in the best interest of the city and the Green family to settle this matter,” City Attorney Jimmy Graham said. “The city accepts no liability.”
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The Greens were represented by Phenix City attorney Kenneth Funderburk and David Rayfield of the Columbus firm Pope McGlamry.
“The settlement speaks for itself in that regard,” Rayfield said Tuesday morning.
The agreement settles all civil complaints by the Greens against the city, including medical bills, Rayfield said. Coty-Green and her husband are still facing misdemeanor criminal charges related to the incident, Rayfield said.
“We hope for a good resolution to the criminal charges,” Rayfield said.
Coty-Green and her husband were not at the council meeting. Rayfield said he has advised the couple not to speak to the media.
“We are glad this could reach a resolution,” Rayfield said.
The police department also has made policy changes in how it responds to domestic calls, Smith said. The department also has purchased 60 body cameras, Smith said.
Mayor Eddie Lowe said the city “is glad this is behind us.”
The city recently had a written complaint against an officer in an unrelated matter, Lowe said. That officer was wearing a body camera and the allegations did not match up with what was on the video, Lowe said.
“I wish we had a body camera on this one,” Lowe said.
Coty-Green addressed the city council last June, complaining the police report on the struggle at her Willow Trace Drive home said she was arrested without incident or injury. She had a black eye and had undergone surgery the week before talking to council.
In that council meeting, Coty-Green said Cameron came to her home about 10:15 p.m. May 18, 2014, with her daughter-in-law Shameka Shifflett, who wanted to collect some belongings she’d left there after a fight with her husband, Demetrius Shifflett.
Coty-Green let her get one bag before suggesting she return when Demetrius Shifflett was there, to make sure they accurately exchanged property. Demetrius Shifflett, who had been living with Coty-Green for about three weeks with his wife, was not home at the time.
Coty-Green said Cameron interjected that the daughter-in-law would get her things that night or he would arrest Coty-Green, who replied, “Arrest me then.”
Spivey Green stepped outside with Cameron to ease the tension, but when he came back in, the officer forced his way in behind him, Coty-Green said.
Cameron tried to drag her outside, and when her husband tried to stop him, the officer arrested and handcuffed Spivey Green, she said.
Cameron had her on the floor on her back, with one handcuff on her right wrist as he tried to put the other cuff on her left arm, which she kept pulling away, she said. That’s when he reared back and punched her unconscious, she said.
When she came to, a police lieutenant was standing over her. “You’re under arrest,” he told her, she said.
She was charged with felony assault and with misdemeanor resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Her husband was charged with resisting arrest.
Police later arrested the daughter-in-law on allegations she smacked her husband in the mouth with a broom handle earlier that day, an altercation that led to the confrontation that night.
Shameka Shifflett was charged with felony assault involving domestic violence.
A $1 million claim Funderburk filed May 23 on Coty-Green’s behalf accused the city and its agents of trespassing, assault and battery, false arrest, excessive force and breaking and entering.
Police violated her right to defend her home, and to “defend herself against an unlawful intrusion and against a false and unwarranted arrest,” Funderburk wrote.
He made the same claims on behalf of Spivey Green.