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Woman in rough arrest gets $350K

By Justin Boron

The Stockbridge woman who a video showed being slammed to the ground by an Atlanta police officer has settled the case for $350,000, her attorney said Wednesday.

Diana Dietrich-Barnes filed a lawsuit in July against Terence Alexander and the city of Atlanta, alleging false imprisonment, excessive force, battery, malicious prosecution, negligent hiring, and deprivation of property without due process.

Harlan Miller, her attorney, confirmed that the settlement amount reportedly released by the city of Atlanta was accurate.

The settlement's disclosure comes on the heels of Alexander's reinstatement to the police department by a civil service board. He was initially fired this summer for using excessive force, the Atlanta police chief said at the time. The board found his actions warranted only a 30-day suspension.

Lecora Bowen, Alexander's attorney, said she was surprised at the amount of the settlement but chalked it up to politics.

“It signals that it was a political issue and the insurance company decided not to take the risk,” she said. “When the truth gets out there - no one should have given her a dime.”

Bowen also said “slam” is an unfair characterization of her client's actions.

On Nov. 2, 2004, a video camera recorded a scuffle between the officer and the Henry County woman. The video showed Alexander dragging Dietrich-Barnes from her vehicle, which she had stopped at the curb while waiting for her elderly mother.

Alexander claimed Dietrich-Barnes had hurt him by slamming her car door into him. But the officer's supervisors dropped charges against the woman after reviewing the video.

Clayton County prosecutors also declined to press charges against Dietrich-Barnes when Alexander petitioned them to do so.

Alexander has filed a counter-suit against Dietrich-Barnes, alleging that she injured him with her vehicle during the incident. The suit also alleges libel and slander against Alexander.

Bowen provided affidavits from two officers explaining that they were trained at the Atlanta Police Academy to place “a knee in (the) back as a way to keep or “control” of (suspects) while handcuffing them.

Miller said the lawsuit is baseless.

News Daily staff writer Ed Brock contributed to this article.