A federal court jury awarded $425,000 in damages yesterday to Don R. Parker, 37, who was shot and wounded in 1982 by D.C. police officers who had gone to his home in Prince George's County to interview his wife concerning his whereabouts.
The verdict against the District government came after a two-week trial in U.S. District Court here in which Parker's lawyers contended that the police used excessive force and that their action violated Parker's constitutional rights.
However, the six-member jury rejected the claim of excessive force.
Candida Staempfli, an assistant D.C. corporation counsel, said the District would probably ask Judge Joyce Hens Green, who presided at the trial, to set aside the verdict.
The incident that prompted Parker's lawsuit occurred in November 1982 when Parker, who was charged in an arrest warrant with armed robbery, was being sought by the District's repeat offenders unit.
Two plainclothes officers, William Hayes Jr. and Ronald Motley, testified that they visited an Oxon Hill home on a weekday morning, expecting to interview Parker's wife, Betty, from whom they believed he was estranged.
Instead, the officers said, they also encountered Parker, who was wearing a bathrobe, and asked him to accompany them to the District even though they did not carry the arrest warrant with them.
Parker testified that he told the officers he wanted to put on street clothes, but instead he left the house by climbing out a bedroom window. He said he ran into a wooded area, and then flagged down a passing station wagon, which turned out to be driven by Hayes.
When he realized he had hailed a police officer, Parker said, he tried to get into a red Volvo, which had hit Hayes' station wagon, and yelled "Help me, they're trying to kill me."
Hayes testified that he pulled Parker out of the other car, then, when he thought Parker was reaching toward his belt for a gun, fired his service revolver. The bullet struck Parker in the side.
No weapon was found on Parker, the officers testified.
The bullet injured Parker's spine, medical experts testified, requiring him to be hospitalized for two months. Parker said he is still partly paralyzed and uses a walker.
The robbery charge against Parker, who according to trial testimony had two prior convictions for armed robbery and one for forging checks, subsequently was dropped by prosecutors.
Parker's attorneys, William W. Taylor III and Lawrence A. Katz, contended that the officers were inadequately trained, supervised and disciplined, and that this "directly resulted in the deprivation of [Parker's] constitutional rights without due process of law."