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Jury awards University City woman $3,500 in her Taser lawsuit against St. Louis police

Jury awards University City woman $3,500 in her Taser lawsuit against St. Louis police

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ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis Circuit Court jury on Thursday awarded $3,500 to a University City woman who was shocked by St. Louis police three times with a Taser after a 2015 protest.

Jurors found in favor of Kristine Hendrix on one battery count of her civil suit against Officer Stephen Ogunjobi. They found in favor of Ogunjobi on an assault count and in favor of Officer Louis Wilson on separate counts of assault and battery. They did not award Hendrix any punitive damages.

Hendrix, now 39, filed her suit in 2017. The University City School Board president and mother of three is represented by the nonprofit law firm ArchCity Defenders.

Hendrix, in court filings, said the Taser probes struck her in the nipple and the hand. She said she was not resisting police and could not comply with officers' orders because her right arm was pinned beneath her.

Lawyers for the officers said Hendrix tried to walk away from police and did not comply when Wilson tried to handcuff her. They say four seconds elapsed after Wilson told her to put her hands behind her back before Ogunjobi first used the Taser. 

Hendrix was acquitted on charges of resisting arrest and impeding traffic, but filings show jurors in the civil case were not told about that.

Police said marchers protesting police misconduct were walking in the street and blocking traffic. Hendrix has denied that, saying she was among a group standing on the sidewalk at 11th Street and Washington Avenue arranging rides home. A partial video of the incident sparked an internal police investigation.

In a statement Friday, ArchCity said, "Despite the officer’s and the City’s failed attempts to shift blame and prosecute Ms. Hendrix, this verdict makes clear that it was the SLMPD’s officer, not Ms. Hendrix, who was fully in the wrong. Make no mistake--this is an indictment not only of the individual officer that committed this horrible abuse, but also of the SLMPD supervisors that condoned it, and the City that subsequently sought to cover it with a baseless prosecution."

"No amount of money would be enough to repair the trauma and harm Ms. Hendrix has endured, and we believe Ms. Hendrix deserves far more than the damages awarded by the jury in this case," the statement reads, in part.

UPDATED Feb. 24 with statement from ArchCity.

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