Barr settles excessive force lawsuit against Sheriff’s Office

PIMA – Frank Barr Sr. will never physically be the same after suffering a shoulder injury during a fateful interaction with Graham County Sheriff’s Office deputies Nov. 8, 2014, but he is looking to move past the incident and continue to live his life the best he can.

Barr, who was 71 at the time of the incident, recently settled his lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, but he still never got what he really wanted, an apology.

Barr initially filed a lawsuit against both the town of Pima and Graham County for $250,000 each for injuries he stemmed from his interaction with deputies when his son was apprehended regarding an alleged theft of a go-kart. Barr withdrew the town of Pima as a defendant because its officer was not involved in the physical altercation with him, and recently settled with Graham County’s insurance, the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool, for roughly $100,000, according to his statements to Gila Valley Central. Barr said the lawsuit was never about the money.

“All I ever wanted from day one was an apology (and) that one of their officers overstepped his boundary,” he said. “I’ve got – for the rest of my life – a shoulder that I can’t use 100 percent anymore.”

The settlement was made without the County admitting any guilt. Indeed, sometimes lawsuits can be more cost effective to just settle instead of dragging on in court. The Barr lawsuit was filed Oct. 21, 2015.

“Our county’s insurance pool has attorneys to represent us in our lawsuits and we follow along with the recommendation of our attorneys,” Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred said.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central: Sheriff P.J. Allred sticks by his statement that his deputies handled the situation with Barr correctly.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Valley Central:
Sheriff P.J. Allred sticks by his statement that his deputies handled the situation with Barr correctly.

According to the lawsuit, a Pima officer visited Barr’s home looking for his son for questioning regarding a missing go-kart Barr had actually built. Barr said his son was not home, but that he would try to help find him and let the officer know if he returned.

Later, Barr informed the officer that his son had returned home, and the officer soon arrived with Graham County Sheriff’s deputies as backup.

As the Pima officer and three deputies were taking Barr’s son into custody, Barr said he attempted to watch the arrest but Deputy Daniel Wilde shined a flashlight in his face and told him to get back.

“Each time he told me to step back I did,” Barr said. “After the fourth time, I was about 25 feet away from my son, and I stepped sideways to see what they were doing because I could hear him (Barr’s son) screaming, and he (Wilde) pepper sprayed me.”

After being pepper sprayed, Barr called the deputy an expletive and went down on one knee while attempting to clear his eyes of the irritant. At that time, Deputy Chris Palma then took Barr to the ground.

“He (Palma) pulled my arm out (and) ripped two of the cartilages in the shoulder,” Barr said.

Allred stood by his deputies at the time, and the settlement of the lawsuit has not changed his opinion.

“Had I have been there would I have done something different, maybe,” Allred said. “Would I have done the same thing he did, maybe . . . So based on the information I had, I think he did OK.”

Wilde did not complete his probationary period with the Sheriff’s Office and Palma has since transferred to the Safford Police Department. Allred said neither of those moves were instigated from their involvement in the Barr case.

Allred said he considers the matter concluded and that he wouldn’t hesitate to assist Barr shall he be in need of police service.

Barr said that while he believes nearly all police officers are standup individuals who have earned the community’s respect, there are those one in a million who don’t.

“I have great respect for the police officers,” Barr said. “I worked with them on calls for 20 years and never had a problem with them . . . I have great respect for the officers here.