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REFUSING TO YIELD

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LAWSUITS It’s not the typical police-brutality story: White, affluent, Porsche-driving businessman claims he was put in a “deadly force” choke hold with a flashlight and thrown to the ground after flashing his headlights at a police officer who, he says, failed to yield.

Exactly what happened on a North Dallas thoroughfare two years ago is much in dispute, but nobody argues that morton and Susan Hoffman were arrested by officer Charles Sheffield and taken to Lew Sterrett Jail. Morton was charged with assaulting a police officer, a felony, as well as two misdemeanors for disturbing the peace and resisting arrest; Susan was booked on the charge of “interfering with apprehension.”

Hoffman, 52, filed a complaint against Sheffield and the backup officer who arrested Susan, but the internal affairs investigation found no wrong-doing by the officers. Hoffman, who suspects a cover-up, went to the Police Review Board, but was told that they could do nothing as long as charges were pending.

Eventually all the charges were dropped, but Hoffman was in no mood for forgiveness. In September, the Hoffmans filed a $20.5 million suit against the officers. Police Chief BILL RATHBURN, former Chief MACK VINES. Sheriff JIM BOWLES, the city of Dallas and Dallas County. Hoffman says that the incident cost him $28,000 in legal fees and medical fees for damage to his larynx.

Hoffman says that after he appeared on a newcast to talk about his experience, he was inundated with calls from low-income, mostly minority citizens telling him about similar brushes with the police, and complaining that they could do nothing.

“The whole thing is geared toward making you just walk away,” says Hoffman. “But 1 feel something has to be done. It was a very biased attitude I had; I thought if you had an altercation with the police, it was because you started it.”

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