Unarmed man stunned by Fairfax Co. police officer settles civil rights lawsuit

An unarmed Black man who was shocked with a stun gun wielded by a white Fairfax County police officer in June 2020 has reached a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit, WTOP has learned.

Two months ago, a jury found Officer Tyler Timberlake not guilty of three counts of assault and battery after using his Taser stun gun on Lamonta Gladney while responding to a call in the Mount Vernon area.

In March 2021, Gladney filed a civil rights lawsuit against the officer, claiming Timberlake’s actions violated Gladney’s constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and equal protection under the law.

Court records obtained by WTOP show Timberlake’s attorney, Heather Bardot, has notified the judge that the case has been settled and the settlement has been approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

WTOP has asked for the details of the settlement but Timberlake’s and Gladney’s attorneys, and a Fairfax County spokesman declined to provide specifics.

Contacted by WTOP, Gladney’s co-counsel, Bruce Godfrey, said he “was favorably impressed with the professionalism of opposing counsel” for Timberlake and Fairfax County. He declined to describe the financial terms of the settlement.

“We believe now, and believed while filing, that our case was well-founded,” Godfrey said, referring to his co-counsel Thomas Hennessy. “We think the case is worthy of study, on the doctrine of qualified immunity, which is one of significant public policy interest.”

Qualified immunity, based on U.S. Supreme Court rulings, protects officers from lawsuits unless it can be shown their actions violated “clearly established” rights a reasonable person should know about.

Bardot did not respond to WTOP emails seeking comment on the settlement.

In earlier filings, Bardot told the judge the parties had reached agreement on April 27 “to resolve this case fully and finally,” subject to the approval of the Board of Supervisors, who met in closed session on May 10, with outside counsel, Jim Guynn.

Bardot wrote Guynn had extended the settlement offer, after meeting privately with the Board “to discuss the case and obtain direction and settlement authority.”

On May 10, Bardot updated the court that the case had been settled and asked that Timberlake’s civil trial, which was scheduled to begin May 16, be removed from the court’s docket.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said there will be no liability admitted by either party in connection with the case. He declined to specify how much the county paid in the settlement.

“Moving forward, I have full faith in Chief [Kevin] Davis and the Fairfax County Police Department to continue making progress on important issues such as use of force, de-escalation, communication, community outreach and building trust,” McKay told WTOP, in a statement. “Fairfax County is the safest jurisdiction of its size in the U.S. and that is due to our police department and our community working together to achieve this.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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