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NAJEE’S NOTES: Jury favors plaintiff against Santa Monica officer

On Sept. 2, a federal jury consisting of eight men handed down a verdict in favor of plaintiff Justin L. Palmer against Santa Monica Police Officer Robert Fujita.

The jury awarded Palmer $1.1 million in damages after it found Officer Fujita used excessive force in arresting Palmer for a minor municipal ordinance violation.

Palmer, 37, attended New York University and is married with four young daughters. He suffered head, shoulder and back injuries as a result of the incident. On April 21, Palmer was handcuffed, thrown to the ground, pepper-sprayed and placed in a painful leg hold by Officer Fujita while Palmer tried to charge his electric vehicle at Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica.

Palmer was represented by Justin Sanders and Reginald Roberts of Sanders Roberts & Jewett LLP, a notable downtown litigation firm.

The incident began with a verbal dispute between Palmer, Fujita and another officer around 11 p.m.  Palmer and dozens of other electric vehicle drivers used the charger located at the park at all hours of the day and night.

Fujita approached Palmer and told him the park was closed. Palmer disputed that and pointed out the other electric vehicles charging at the same time. Palmer also pointed out the presence of other people in the park.

Fujita then handcuffed Palmer, threw him head first into the concrete, pepper-sprayed him and placed him in a “Figure Four” leg hold. After the verdict, Palmer’s attorney Sanders said, “I am happy with the verdict. The truth was always on our side.”

Sanders is a young superstar lawyer in our community, who some legal experts have said has the potential to be the next Johnnie Cochran. I want to personally commend him and the NAACP of Santa Monica, under the leadership of branch President Darrel Goode.

They fought a good, courageous and successful fight against these rogue officers in the Santa Monica Police Department. This is the type of advocacy that’s still needed in our community and nation. Job well done.

Freddie Muse Jr., president of the Men’s Cancer Network, proudly presents it’s third annual cancer awareness benefit rally and concert. The theme this year is “ Every Man’s Cancer.”

The event will be held on Sept. 7 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center 4305 Degnan Blvd in Leimert Park. The cost is $40 and includes refreshments, membership, concert and T-shirt.

The Men’s Cancer Network is a vital community network enriching the lives of men with cancer and rendering essential resources through qualified and personal experiences. They also provide educational support for men and their families for awareness, prevention and a cancer support group with activities and workshops for men 35 years and older.

This network, which I’m a member of, is made up of cancer survivors who come together for a common goal. We want to make our community aware the importance of early detection of prostrate cancer as well as all other cancers.

As I continue my own personal battle with continued  chemotherapy treatments for my lymphoma cancer. I’m grateful for the leadership of men like Freddie Muse Jr., whose leadership and commitment to helping men and their families overcome cancer is invaluable. I’m grateful for his help and look forward to being a guest speaker at the event on Saturday.

For more information, contact Freddie Muse Jr at (213) 909-7159 or

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