A federal jury found today that Eureka police officers used excessive force in a $4.5 million verdict to the family of Martin Frederick Cotton II, who died in police custody in 2007.
Cotton, 26, died Aug. 9, 2007, just hours after being involved in several violent altercations at the Eureka Rescue Mission, including one with Eureka Police Department officers. The Humboldt County Coroner's Office said Cotton died of a subdural hematoma due to blunt force trauma, but stopped short of determining the cause of that trauma.
This afternoon, according to court records, a federal jury in Oakland found that two EPD officers used excessive force against Cotton, that three officers were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs and that Eureka failed to adequately train its officers in obtaining medical care for arrestees who have had force used against them. The jury also found that three EPD officers acted “maliciously, oppressively or in reckless disregard” of Cotton's constitutional rights.
The court's judgment finds the city of Eureka liable for $4 million payable to Cotton's daughter, Siehna Cotton; the city liable for $500,000 payable to Cotton's father, Martin Cotton Sr.; and individual officers liable for a total of $75,000 payable to Martin Cotton Sr.