Wagoner County Election Board secretary sues law enforcement

Tuesday, September 21st 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WAGONER, Okla. (AP) -- The secretary of the Wagoner County
Election Board and his family have filed a $71.4 million civil
rights lawsuit in federal court against the Oklahoma Highway Patrol
and the Wagoner County Commission.

Larry Hall and his family claim they were victims of excessive
force, false arrest and false imprisonment during a confrontation
with county deputies and troopers in April.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the OHP and two state
troopers, the Wagoner County Commission and three Wagoner County
Sheriff's deputies.

Sheriff Rudy Briggs, who was not present at the April 24
incident, said he also was served Monday with the lawsuit. He is
accused of negligent hiring and failure to train officers.

Named as plaintiffs are Hall, his two sons, his brother, wife,
mother and 6-year-old grandson. They allege they were choked,
sprayed with pepper spray and kicked in the ribs, head and back,
according to court papers.

Each is asking for $5 million in compensatory damages and $5
million in punitive damages. They also are asking for $100,000 each
from the Wagoner County Commission and the OHP, the maximum amount
the agencies can be held liable for under the state's tort claims

"I'm not surprised. I figured it was coming," Briggs said.

The claims result from an April melee when Hall and his two sons
were arrested on complaints including assault on a police officer
and resisting arrest. Charges were not filed.

The incident started with a confrontation between Deputy Kelly
Burke and Larry Hall's son, Mark, at a Wagoner car wash. Mark Hall
claimed that Burke came to the car wash to harass him, but Burke
said that he was driving by when Hall summoned him over while
waving his fist, according to police records and the lawsuit.

An altercation reportedly began and Burke allegedly sprayed
pepper spray in Hall's face. Hall then reportedly escaped arrest
and drove to his father's residence.

Officers from Wagoner County and the OHP were called to the
house, where members of the Hall family intervened. A brawl broke
out and several officers wrestled with family members, according to
police reports.

The lawsuit claims Mark and Larry Hall were choked, handcuffed
and then kicked while sitting in an OHP cruiser.

The lawsuit also claims that officers banged the head of Larry
Hall's other son, Brad, repeatedly into a car, while Larry Hall's
wife, mother and grandson were hit with pepper spray.

"This isn't about money," Larry Hall said Monday. "But my
brother and family discussed it, and we decided somebody's got to
stand up."