The father of a 16-year-old Fairfax County youth who allegedly was beaten by county police officers while being arrested at a roller rink last January yesterday lost a $200,000 damage suit he filed against the three arresting officers.
Lacy Cadle's son Howard was hospitalized for scalp lacerations and bruises after his arrest Jan. 6 at the Franconia Roller Rink on a Juvenile Court warrant for violating probation.
In his suit, heard in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Cadle argued that the arresting officers used "excessive physical force" by beating his son on the head and shoulders with nightsticks while making the arrest.
Several witness to the arrest, which took place in a cramped storage room of the rink, testified that the younger Cadle - wearing roller skates - was beaten by two officers who had him pinned against a freezer.
"They (the officers) were hitting hard," said Pat Currence, an employe of the roller rink. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
The defendants - Officers James F. Kelly, Robert T. Hubbard and Keith M. Florence - testified that the youth resisted arrest and that Hubbard and Florence subdued him while Kelly watched a crowd that had gathered at the door.
The youth "was struggling so violently," said Hubbard, who admitted punching the youth several times, "it was all the two of us could do to contain him."
At that point, Lacy Cadle rose to his feet in the court room, shaking his fists, and shouted: "Why did they grab his hands and feet.They didn't have to beat him like that."
U.S. District Judge Robert Merhige, who presided over the emotional two-day trial, ordered him removed from the courtroom.
Over the objections of Cadle's attorney, John Sims, the youth's juvenile record - which includes arrests on burglary and auto theft charges - was admitted as character evidence. The jury also heard testimony supporting the officers' claim that the youth was "hot tempered."
Judge Merhige, citing "evidence in direct conflict," told the jury that in his view, the outcome of the case was "a question of credibility."
The six-member jury deliberated less than 90 minutes before returning the verdict for the defendants.
Asked later if an appeal is planned, Sims said, "it's a possibility. But these cases are hard to win. You're contesting authority."