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Man Shot by Police Officer Awarded $1 in Damages

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 21, 2009 6:39 PM

An unarmed man who was shot by a Calvert County sheriff's deputy in 2007 was awarded a dollar in damages today by a federal jury that found the deputy used excessive force, the county sheriff said.

Plaintiff Robert L. Commodore's wife, Detoria Commodore, hailed the outcome as a victory, pointing to the finding by the jury at U.S. District Court in Greenbelt that deputy Joseph Windsor violated her husband's civil rights.

"I thank God that justice was served," she said. "I thank God that my husband is alive. I thank God that he was there to tell what happened, and I hope that the Calvert County Sheriff's Department does something with Mr. Windsor."

Calvert Sheriff Mike Evans also claimed a partial win, noting that the award was minimal and that a local grand jury cleared Windsor of wrongdoing in 2007.

"We cleared him of all charges," Evans said. "The jury must have felt something was different, but by awarding him only $1, they understood the position the deputy was in. This won't hold us back or anything."

Windsor is still employed as a sheriff's deputy, and the ruling will not change that, Evans said. Commodore, meanwhile, is incarcerated on a drug conviction stemming from the incident in which he was shot.

On Jan. 10, 2007, authorities have said, Windsor pulled Commodore over for a routine traffic stop. At some point during the stop, Evans said, Commodore took off running and reached toward his waist band as if he had a gun.

Windsor fired his gun -- family members say at Commodore's back, the sheriff's office maintains his injuries were closer to his side. The bullet punctured his lung and broke two of his ribs, Detoria Commodore said.

Police found crack cocaine and marijuana near where Commodore lay after the shooting. Commodore was sentenced to five years in prison.

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