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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Tampa council to decide on $165,000 payout in police beating

TAMPA — The Tampa City Council will be asked this morning to approve a $165,000 payout to a Pinellas County man beaten by four Tampa police officers outside an Ybor City nightclub three years ago.

Jacob P. Cowie filed a federal suit against four Tampa officers — Joseph J. Reese, Gregory J. Pryor, Jayson G. Uriarte and John R. Gustafson — alleging they violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Cowie says in the suit the officers used excessive force when they pulled him from Gaspar’s Grotto in February 2010, beat him, kicked him, stunned him with a Taser and threw him on a bench.

The incident left Cowie with an injured shoulder that required surgery to fix, the lawsuit says. He also suffered broken bones around one eye, his lawyer said.

Cowie, who is deaf, was approached after an incident at the club by one of the officers working undercover. Because the officer was dressed in street clothes, Cowie at first didn’t realize he was being subdued by the police, the lawsuit says.

Cowie ended up outside the Seventh Avenue club with the officers. That’s when the scuffle began.

In his lawsuit, Cowie said he and bystanders tried to explain his hearing impairment but couldn’t get the officers to understand. Cowie wears hearing aids.

Cowie received a notice to appear on a charge of disorderly conduct. The charge was later dropped.

The incident was investigated by Tampa police’s internal affairs division. All four officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

In his lawsuit, filed in 2011, Cowie asked for $500,000 in damages and compensation along with a jury trial.

City officials last month agreed to a proposed $165,000 settlement.

“It was determined to be in the best interest of the City of Tampa to settle this civil rights case before trial,” city officials say in their recommendation to the city council.

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