ST. PETERSBURG — One October day in 2007, a homeless man broke into a car and stole a bike.What we need are two new laws, one prohibiting criminals from bringing suit against anyone connected with their crime, and another one to decriminalize the severe beating of criminals during the arrest process, at least in circumstances like this one.
He didn't get very far.
Within minutes, that man, Michael Dupree, was caught trying to sell the bike down the street. He was arrested and sent to jail. Now, he wants payback.
Dupree, who is serving a 12-year prison sentence for burglary and cocaine possession, has filed a lawsuit against three men who helped police take him down.
Dupree says he's the victim of a rough citizens arrest, and was assaulted and battered by the men. He is seeking $500,000 and punitive damages.
"It's laughable," said Anthony McKoy, one of the men being sued. "It's a waste of taxpayer money."
McKoy says he remembers Dupree well.
He says that on the morning of Oct. 11, 2007, he was working at his business on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street S.
At some point, he went into his office for something. When he came back, he noticed that the passenger window of one of his vehicles was broken.
He quickly spotted Dupree, who had a red bike that had been inside the vehicle.
McKoy and two other men gave chase. They found Dupree hiding naked a few hundred feet away. McKoy says he put Dupree in a shoulder hold until officers arrived.
According to a police report, Dupree, was homeless at the time. He has a criminal record dating back to 1990.
Dupree told police that a guy had given him the bike and he went to the corner store and was trying to sell it.
Then, he said, McKoy and the other men jumped him, pointed a gun at him, placed a knee painfully on his spine and handcuffed him. Dupree claims in his suit, which he filed without a lawyer, that the take-down "resulted in permanent disabilities and psychological disorders which the Plaintiff continues to suffer."
Dupree was convicted of burglary in 2008. He is serving his sentence at the Apalachee Correctional Institution in Sneads. He pleaded no contest to the drug charge and is serving a concurrent sentence of nearly three years.
McKoy said he couldn't believe it when he was served with Dupree's lawsuit earlier this month.
"I thought it was a joke," McKoy said. "I'm the victim."
McKoy said he expects the suit to be dismissed.
"What gall," he said. "I guess time in prison just makes you go crazy."
Friday, July 30, 2010
Burglar sues victim over rough arrest
And this is why we need meaningful tort reform. Only in the American court system can frivolous suits like this be filed without cost or penalty, forcing the victims to pay lawyers' fees and other charges which they don't get back even after the suit is dismissed.