Metro Council is expected approve a $99,000 settlement to end a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a Nashville pediatrician who was arrested for disorderly conduct while trying to free an infant from a locked car in May 2012.
Dr. Stacey Williams had just examined the eight-day-old baby for the first time at her office on Edmonson Pike.
When the mother and baby left, the mother accidentally locked her infant inside her car.
She called for help and firefighters arrived. Dr. Williams later happened upon the scene as she left her office for lunch around Noon.
According to the lawsuit, the doctor identified herself to firefighters on scene and told them they needed to free the infant as soon as possible because her body core temperature could become dangerously high.
The baby had been in the car for about 20 minutes. Firefighters were trying to use a “Slim Jim” to open the locked door, but it was unsuccessful.
Dr. Williams told the firefighters they needed to break the vehicle’s window to free the baby.
According to the lawsuit, the baby’s mother pleaded with the doctor to break the glass of the car window when it did not appear the firemen were going to open the door.
Dr. Williams got a hammer from her office and returned to the car to break the front passenger window of the vehicle.
The lawsuit states a fireman told her to break the window on the driver side of the vehicle.
She went to the other side of the vehicle to do that, but before she could break the window Dr. Williams stated Officer Michael Pyle grabbed her from behind.
The lawsuit states Officer Pyle pulled Dr. Williams away from the vehicle and down the sidewalk in a forcible and excessive manner as employees at the scene tried to explain that Dr. Williams was the baby’s physician.
“Plaintiff Williams was physically slammed to the pavement by defendant Pyle, causing and or aggravating injuries to her head, left hip and shoulder, left hand and wrist and left knee,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Pyle also placed handcuffs on plaintiff Williams that were too tight and in such a manner that caused additional physical injury, including a separated right shoulder. “
Dr. Williams sued Officer Pyle individually and in his official capacity as a Metro police officer. She also sued Metro government.
She alleges Officer Pyle violated her Fourth Amendment right against false arrest and/or false imprisonment.
She also alleges he used excessive force in violation of federal law.
Dr. Williams asked for $500,000 for physical injury and emotional distress from Officer Pyle, $500,000 in punitive damages from Officer Pyle and $250,000 in compensatory damages from Metro government for physical injuries and emotional distress.
Metro’s legal department declined to comment on the lawsuit.
But, the department made a recommendation to Metro’s Council to settle the lawsuit out of court for $99,000.
The budget committee is expected to approve the settlement on Monday with the full council giving final approval at its council meeting Tuesday evening.
Metro police did not take disciplinary action against Officer Pyle as a result of the incident.
Dr. Williams was arrested at the time and arrested for disorderly conduct, but the charges were later dismissed.
The firefighters eventually broke out the window of the mother’s vehicle to free her infant daughter.
Earlier this month on July 1, a new law took effect allowing bystanders to break out a car window to rescue a child locked in a hot car. The law does not apply to pets.