Eureka Police lose big in Martin Cotton case
A lawsuit brought against Eureka Police for the 2007 death of Martin Cotton II was unanimously decided by an Oakland jury today in favor Cotton’s family.
Verbena Lea attended the trial and told KMUD news that Cotton’s young daughter, Siehna, was awarded $1,250,000 for the pain and suffering inflicted on Cotton and $2,750,000 for wrongful death.
The jury also found that the conduct of Eureka Police Officers Justin Winkle, Gary Whitmer and Adam Laird “shocked the conscience” and thereby awarded Martin Cotton Sr. $500,000.
In addition the jury awarded punitive damages for which the officers will be personally liable. Laird and Winkle were ordered to pay $30,000 each while Whitmer is on the hook for $15,000.
The family’s attorney Vicki Sarmiento said Cotton, 26, died from blunt force trauma to the head and would have survived with medical attention. Cotton died after being taken to the Humboldt County jail after an altercation with police and others at the Eureka Rescue Mission.
Eureka Mayor Frank Jager was coroner at the time of Cotton’s death and initially tried to blame it on an overdose of LSD.