Florida man close to winning nearly $200K in false arrest settlement

Arben Bajra has "had nightmares about this for a very long time."
Posted By Evan Bleier  |  Nov. 6, 2013 at 10:21 AM
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(UPI) -- A man from Hollywood, Fla., is close to securing a $195,000 settlement from the city after a police officer mistook him for a dangerous suspect and beat and arrested him.

If city commissioners approve the deal, Arben Bajra, 33, could have his settlement as early as Wednesday. If approved, the payout would be almost double the amount permitted under state law for a false arrest.

Bajra filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Officer Jonathan Commella alleging false arrest, battery and violation of his constitutional rights.

Commella, now 27, was looking for a man who had pulled a gun on someone at a nearby bar. During the 2010 incident, Commella spotted Bajra and thought he was the suspect.

According to police records, he punched Bajra in the face several times and fractured his skull. Commella also fired his Taser seven times at Bajra while he was handcuffed.

Bajra had to have a metal plate implanted under his left eye and he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder according to his attorney, Wayne Koppel.

"The injuries and the conduct in this case are egregious," Koppel said. "I will give the city of Hollywood credit. They did end up doing the right thing and elected to settle this case rather than putting him through any more grief. He's had nightmares about this for a very long time."

"The police say they thought he fit the description [of the suspect] and that's why he was stopped. But he did not fit the description even remotely."

Battery charges were not filed against Commella after prosecutors deemed his actions to be reasonable because he believed his life was in danger.

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