The Town of Fairland has been served with a notice of tort claim by James and Lynne Meek of Fairland for $300,000 for medical bills and physical pain and suffering, plus $1 million for the violation of their civil rights on March 15, 2011.
“This came as a total surprise. Yesterday (when the town was served) was the first time any mention has been made of injuries,” Fairland Police Chief Tony Wisely said.
He added, “No one filed a complaint with the town.”
Lynne Meek said this notice of tort claim is so late, almost a year after the incident, because her court case just got finished.
She entered a plea of no contest, which means that she does not refute the charges but also does not claim guilt for the charges, to the breach of peace charge. She was sentenced to 30 days, which was deferred.
“This case is not over, it's just beginning. This incident is one of the reasons I'm running for office (Fairland Board of Trustees). It is time for a change,” she said.
The notice of tort claim served the town from attorney Brandon Watkins says, “On or about the 15th day of March 2011, my clients James and Lynne Meek were intentionally physically abused by Officer Aaron Richardson using violent physical force to effectuate an improper arrest in violation of the rights afforded the Meeks under the Oklahoma and United States constitutions.”
Police reports state Richardson was dispatched to the residence of Madonna Krebs at 315 Stauffer Road in reference to a report of a peace disturbance between neighbors.
Upon arrival, he said three juvenile children were playing basketball in the driveway at 315 Stauffer Road, while Meek and her husband were standing in their front yard, directly across from the Krebs residence.
Mrs. Meek, he said, immediately began yelling that he wasn't allowed on her property. Richardson told her he was there in reference to a peace disturbance complaint. The Meeks then went in their house while Richardson talked to the Krebs.
Mrs. Krebs said she and her children have been enduring constant harassment from the Meeks for several years because the Meeks say they are unable to sleep when the Krebs kids are out playing basketball in their front yard.
Mrs. Krebs told Richardson that the Meeks routinely curse and yell at her children and demand they not play outside.
She said the Meeks have called the police several times to get them to press peace disturbance charges against the Krebs, but the responding police officers never found them at fault.
Mrs. Krebs said on March 15, 2011, while watching her children play outside with other neighborhood children, she saw the Meeks come out yelling at the kids. After hearing Mrs. Meeks tell the children that they “sucked” in a voice loud enough that she heard it in the house, she then called 911.
Richardson said, Mrs. Krebs then asked the Meeks be cited for disturbing her and her children's peace. He told her since he hadn't observed the Meeks alleged actions that if she completed a written statement, he would issue the Meeks a summons to appear in city court.
After getting the information from Mrs. Krebs, Richardson saw James Meek come out of the house and put garbage in one of their garbage cans. After getting his permission to talk to him, Richardson told him Mrs. Krebs wanted to pursue charges on him and his wife for peace disturbance.
James Meeks said they had walked out in the street to get the kids to quit playing basketball so his wife could sleep. Richardson said since the children were within their own yard, playing basketball under adult supervision while it was still light out was unreasonable for Meeks to approach the kids and yell at them.
In the notice of tort claim, it states, “Officer Richardson also committed the intentional tort of assault and battery resulting in physical pain and suffering from being thrown about during the arrest and handcuffed too tightly.
When Richardson requested James Meek to provide him with his full name and information so that he could complete the court summons, he refused to provide the officer with any information.
Richardson added, “I tried to explain to him that if I could not complete the summons then I would have no other choice than to arrest him for the misdemeanor charge.”
After several more attempts, James Meek finally said, “arrest me then.”
“I then placed Mr. Meek into custody for peace disturbance and obstructing a police officer. I placed him in restraints and led him to a bench on his front porch and asked him to sit down, which he complied,” Richardson said in his report.
At that time Mrs. Meek came out ordering Richardson to release her husband and leave her property. Mrs. Meek became irate, he said, after he told her he was just trying to issue her and her husband a summons to appear in court, but he refused to cooperate so had been arrested. She also refused to cooperate, so Richardson told her she was under arrest for peace disturbance and obstructing a police officer. Later, a resisting arrest charge was added.
At that point Richardson said Mrs. Meeks turned and began running away from him in an effort to flee. Just as she reached her front door and opened it, Richardson said he was able to grab her arms to keep her from entering the house.
He said he had to forcibly remove her grip from the door frame after she refused to release her grip. Despite her effort to keep from being secured, Richardson was able to do it. She also attempted to kick him twice while being led to the police car.
The notice of tort claim also states, “The injuries sustained were unnecessary and avoidable. The injuries sustained by my clients were the result of the intentional acts of the Fairland police officer and were in no way due to any action or inaction on the part of James and Lynne Meek.”
The police reports states that after Fairland Police Officer Mike Baker arrived and secured James Meek in his patrol car, Mrs. Meek continued to yell and curse the two officers. She also kicked the windows and doors demanding to be released. Baker was able to calm her down slightly, but she hit her head lightly on the metal mesh cage in the police car.
The notice of tort claim says, “As a result of this accident, James and Lynne Meek have suffered and continue to suffer physical pain, along with financial hardship due to medical bills incurred as a result of the negligence of the Fairland police officer.”
Wisely said, “If one of our officers did something wrong the incident needs to be reviewed by outside agencies.”
He said Richardson, a 22-year veteran of law enforcement, is still on the force, but Baker resigned while still in CLEET training, saying a career in law enforcement wasn't for him.