The Sheriff's Department issued the following statement to FOX 11 News after the jury’s award was announced: “We disagree with the finding of the court. We believe our deputies acted appropriately. On the use of force, there is always a credibility issue and we stand behind our deputies.”
The federal civil trial occurred after the district attorney dismissed criminal charges against Dirks, a school bus driver with Compton Unified School District, for allegedly assaulting the deputies.
Dirks maintained that two deputies beat him and broke his eye socket during a traffic stop in November 2007. He had just left an auto parts store in Compton when he was pulled over for speeding. The situation escalated after police ordered him to exit the vehicle twice and his door jammed, Dirks said.
According to defense attorney R.J. Manuelian, Dirks was charged with one count of Assault Upon a Peace Officer, two counts of Resisting Arrest and one count of Obstructing or Delaying a Peace Officer. In 2008, Manuelian argued to a Compton jury that Deputies Pablo Partida and Deputy Robert Martinez told “lies” to cover up the beating they gave Dirks during a routine traffic stop where they “profiled him as being a gang member.”
“Numerous officials from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, including the Internal Affairs, attempted to convince the jury Deputy Partida and Martinez acted appropriately,” said Manuelian.
Dirks’ trial ended in a hung jury after a Compton judge gave a special jury instruction requested by the prosecutor, he explained.
“The judge gave a bad instruction on the law which confused two of the jurors, causing the jury to hang 10-2 in our favor instead of being unanimous,” Manuelian said. “I think the prosecutor understood the special instruction was legally invalid and felt compelled to dismiss Deon’s case before the retrial because he knew we would have had an acquittal without it. After all, he stipulated in the federal civil trial that we won the criminal case on the merits. The federal jury also validated our criminal defense victory with their swift unanimous verdict.”