Navy surgeon's lawsuit claiming police brutality continues

Dr. Eric Harris says CVPD officer injured him

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - For the first time, one of San Diego's top Navy doctors is speaking out about what he calls a nightmare incident with Chula Vista police.

10News broke the story in 2011 of a lawsuit filed by Dr. Eric Harris after a violent encounter at a Jimmy Buffett concert at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in October 2008.

"I was incredulous as it was going on," said Harris.

In a parking lot jammed with traffic, Harris, who heads the spinal surgery unit at Naval Medical Center San Diego, got out of his SUV to help create a space to merge.

He said a Chula Vista police officer yelled at him to get back in his SUV. Harris admitted that he muttered a curse word under his breath, and then headed back to the passenger side of his SUV.

Harris said CVPD Officer Frank Krafft came from behind and slammed his face into the vehicle three times

"The worst thing was my children were screaming in the back seat," said Harris.

Harris was arrested on charges including resisting arrest. Prosecutors declined to pursue the case, but Harris filed a lawsuit against the city of Chula Vista.

Weeks after the incident, Harris was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

More than four years after the incident, the case marches on.

The city of Chula Vista retained outside counsel, and the legal bills continue to grow.

In documents obtained by 10News through a public records request, it's revealed that the city has paid almost $200,000 in legal fees as of November 2012.

The case has also gotten ugly. The attorney hired by the city was sanctioned for calling Harris' attorney -- Mary Frances Prevost -- a derogatory name in a court filing.

The trial is scheduled for August.

"We have four independent witnesses who say Dr. Harris was not impaired and he did not interfere with the police officer," said Prevost.

"He definitely took out his anger on me and my family that night … more than anything, I want to see the city and police … take responsibility," said Harris.

In a statement, the Chula Vista City Attorney's Office said:
 

"It is against Office policy to litigate matters in the media, or to discuss the specifics of any pending case, even in response to inaccurate and inappropriate comments by opposing counsel. Without getting into specifics, I will say, however, that, it is the City's strong belief that the officer in this case at all times acted appropriately. The City reached this conclusion after conducting a thorough investigation. This belief is corroborated by testimony of an independent witness at the scene who declared that the officer never assaulted, was rough with, or did anything to cause injuries to the plaintiff."




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