By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
Robert Allen Cooper was surprised to learn in last week’s Sentinel that he had sued the Dade County Sheriff’s Department after being mauled by a police dog that pursued him through the woods as he ran from a roadblock. He was even more astonished to read that he’d complained his medical needs were unmet while he languished in the county lockup. None too happy, he called to say the Sentinel had the wrong guy.
“I don’t know who that was but that’s nothing like my story,” said Cooper.
Yes, he had sued the sheriff’s department, said Cooper, but not for injuries sustained while fleeing justice, and he certainly had not done any languishing in jail as a result of the incident.
So the Sentinel looked it up, and was mortified to learn that Cooper was quite correct: In researching civil suits against the sheriff’s department, the Sentinel had transposed plaintiff names in two cases that had been moved from Dade Superior to federal district court in Rome.
The case of the roadblock, the dog and the unmet medical needs recounted in last week’s Sentinel was filed by someone called Morgan. The incident happened in 2003 and the civil suits it triggered lasted into 2006, when they were dismissed as frivolous.
Robert Allen Cooper, meanwhile, had sued the Dade Sheriff’s Department a decade earlier about an entirely different matter, and had settled out of court.
So first of all, the Sentinel apologizes abjectly to Cooper for any embarrassment the mistake has brought to him and his family.
And secondly, here, for clarification, is what was in the court files for the Cooper lawsuit:
Cooper sued after a Dade County deputy and his brother stopped him and confronted him belligerently as he pulled out of his driveway. Cooper fled the scene and drove to the Sheriff’s Department, where he thought he would be safe.
But the brothers pursued Cooper, and when he got to the sheriff’s department, even in the presence of other law enforcement personnel, the deputy continued the confrontation and assaulted Cooper.
Cooper sued but after two years got sick of pursuing the case and settled out of court in November 1993. He is hampered now in talking about the matter by an agreement not to discuss it he signed as part of his settlement.
And anyway, he has no desire to discuss it. “I didn’t want it to be in the paper in the first place,” he pointed out.
Cooper had felt aggrieved by his confrontation with the law back in the early ‘90s. “I was just minding my own business and I got mixed up with them,” he said.
The Sentinel apologizes humbly for bringing him new headaches with its transposing mistake when he was, once again, just minding his own business.