LAWRENCEVILLE -- A local convenience store owner was awarded $137,500 in damages for her wrongful arrest by a Lawrenceville police officer.
A federal jury returned the verdict last week in a suit brought by Drupatty "Ann" Jaipersaud, who owns a gas station along Hurricane Shoals Road.
According to her attorney Albert Wan, the arrest came after Jaipersaud called police for help with unruly customers on Sept. 24, 2008. During a historic gas shortage, a customer became angry after Jaipersaud's pumps were dry.
While investigating, Wan said city police officer Tim Ashley asked to see the station's security tapes. Jaipersaud gave Ashley access to the machine but was unable to work it. Wan said Ashley became angry when Jaipersaud was unable to contact her son -- who did know how to work the video -- and arrested her on a disorderly conduct charge.
Jaipersaud was later aquitted of that charge, as well as a charge of battery related to the incident with the customer.
But her 10 hours in jail came as a shock to the immigrant.
"It was a blow to her sense of what it means to be an American and a citizen who is supposed to be protected by the government," Wan said. "My client was not interested in monetary compensation; she just wanted this officer held accountable."
Wan said the federal judge ruled that the officer arrested Jaipersaud without probable cause, a violation of her 4th Amendment rights, and the jury considered damages, awarding the woman $87,500 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages.
Lawrenceville City Manager Bob Baroni declined to comment on the case, but confirmed that Ashley continues to work for the police department.