A Kansas City barber shop owner who alleges police unlawfully detained him years ago has settled a federal lawsuit for $90,000.
His suit stemmed from a Kansas City police officer’s actions on Nov. 14, 2009, when the officer came across a private party inside the shop, in the 1600 block of East 63rd Street.
Shop owner Joel D. Slatton had invited about 25 people to the “customer appreciation” event. He served beer there and showed a pay-per-view boxing match, according to the suit, which was filed last year in Kansas City.
According to the suit and subsequent deposition testimony, when Officer Lawrence Cory spotted the activity, he called Slatton and asked him to step outside.
Slatton explained what was going on but refused the officer’s request to go inside with his partner to make sure nothing illegal was going on. The officer conducted a pat-down search of Slatton and told him he would be arrested if he went back inside.
Other officers began ticketing cars parked in the strip mall parking lot and questioning departing guests about whether they had been charged to attend.
The officer then called for a fire investigator, who arrived after about 45 minutes, conducted a brief inspection and gave Slatton a verbal warning about a locked back door. By then, the boxing match was over and most of the guests had left.
In a summary judgment ruling, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs found that the officer’s “hunch” that some criminal activity was afoot did not justify Slatton being detained for so long.
“Detaining plaintiff for more than an hour, in demeaning circumstances, for ‘investigation’ of fire code issues cannot be justified under the Constitution,” Sachs wrote.
The parties signed the settlement agreement this week. It does not include any admission of wrongdoing.
“The defendant specifically denies the allegations of wrongdoing and violations of the law contained in the lawsuit,” according to the agreement.