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City of Modesto Police Officers Cleared of Excessive Force Charges in Bar Room Brawl Arrest

Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson LLP announced recently that partner Kim Colwell and associate Kevin Gilbert secured a complete defense verdict in their representation of two City of Modesto police officers against charges of assault and battery and use of excessive force while arresting plaintiff Margaret Shepherd during a bar-room brawl at the Copper Rhino Saloon in Modesto, California.

The defense verdict on the million dollar claim was awarded by a federal jury in Fresno after a week long trial.

The case stemmed from a 2007 bar brawl at the Copper Rhino Saloon during which Shepherd, who was celebrating her son’s 21st birthday, became involved in a large scale physical altercation with the Copper Rhino’s private security. When the police officers arrived, Shepherd was on the back of a security guard with her arms holding the officer in a headlock. Shepherd was subsequently injured while resisting arrest.

During the jury trial, the parties presented conflicting accounts of how Shepherd was arrested and the case essentially came down to the credibility of the plaintiff versus that of the defendants. During interviews following the verdict, several jurors cited Meyers Nave’s closing argument as the reason they voted in favor of the defense.

“Assault and battery and use of excessive force by a police officer are serious allegations and, given the importance of a police officer’s job, it is imperative that the public trusts and respects police officer’s authority,” said Meyers Nave’s Kimberly Colwell. “The complete exoneration of the officers involved in the Copper Rhino bar brawl show that these officers acted professionally and according to police procedures.”

The trial in Shepherd v. Crawford et al., Case No: 1:08-CV-00128-OWW-DLB, began on June 9, 2009 in the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Meyers Nave intends to seek recovery of recovery of the defendants’ costs. 

About Meyers Nave

Founded in 1986, Meyers Nave is a law firm recognized for its work with all types of public entities in California and provides the full scope of legal services to cities, counties, redevelopment agencies and special districts statewide. Meyers Nave’s areas of practice include civil rights, labor/employment; torts; redevelopment; city attorney/general counsel representations; eminent domain; litigation; writs and appeals; public contracts and land use; and environmental law. 


Kim Colwell
Meyers Nave
(510) 808-2000