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14 | Public Safety
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City settles another
police lawsuit for $400K
BY HOLLY R. PRICE
A man who was struck by a Dunwoody Police car while running away from author
ities has settled a lawsuit with the city for $400,000.
The city maintains the collision was accidental and that the officer was cleared by
an internal investigation.
The settlement is the latest in a series of lawsuits and settlements involving the po
lice department in the last three years. Another $2 million is demanded in pending le
gal complaints and actions.
In the 2017 case, police got a call about Yadata Osman doing doughnuts in a parking
lot near Perimeter Mall about 1 a.m. Sept. 4, 2017.
Dunwoody Police Officer Kevin Lopez-Lincona and Sgt. T.D. Fecht responded in sep
arate vehicles. Fecht pulled behind Osman’s car and turned his blue lights on. Osman
jumped out and ran, according to his attorney, Mark Begnaud.
Fecht went after Osman on foot while Lopez-Lincona followed him in his cruiser. Lo
pez-Lincona bumped into Osman, who kept running.
Osman was struck a second time and was pulled under the officer’s car which
crushed and shattered his leg, Begnaud said.
“The city’s insurance carrier made the determination to settle this case,” according
to a statement from spokeswoman Jennifer Boettcher. “The city disputes the assertion
by the plaintiff’s attorney that the officer chased down his client and struck him inten
“There was simply no justification for this officer’s reckless decision to chase down
Mr. Osman with his patrol car,” he said.
It was an interesting case in that Osman was even allowed to sue in the situation, Be
gnaud said. In many cases, an individual isn’t allowed to sue a government body. But
there are a small handful of waivers of those immunities. Under Georgia law, immuni
ty isn’t granted when city agents are involved in automobile-related injuries, Begnaud
Osman, now 32, was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he underwent multi
ple surgeries. His medical bills reached $370,000.
Osman pleaded guilty to charges he was driving under the influence that night, Be
Osman, a Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, has recovered, but it’s taken a
lot of surgeries, Begnaud said.
The same year Osman was hit, the city of Dunwoody settled a federal lawsuit against
Police Officer Dale Laskowski for $52,000.
The settlement marked the fourth lawsuit the city had settled against Laskowski by
men who alleged he conducted traffic stops and then searched and detained them ille
The city’s insurance paid to settle the three prior lawsuits for a total of $187,000. As
part of the settlement, Laskowski denied any wrongdoing and the agreement was not
an admission of liability. He later left the force.
The city currently faces at least three complaints involving former Dunwoody Police
Lt. Fidel Espinoza and other police department officials. The lawsuit, filed July 7 by for
mer officer Roger Halstead, claims that Espinoza sexually harassed him and demanded
sexual materials in exchange for work benefits, then arranged for a retaliatory firing
and blackballing by other departments.
At least three other complainants have filed notices of intent to sue. Civilian trans
port officer Brian Bolden claims Espinoza bullied and sexually harassed him and false
ly accused him of theft; and former officer Austin Handle claims racial discrimination
and fears of impending sexual harassment.
Officer Bryan Castellanos alleges in a July 13 complaint letter that Espinoza sexual
ly harassed him by sending and demanding sexual photos and videos, engaging in sex
ual chats with Castellano’s wife, and taking a photo of the officer while he was using a
The notice says Castellanos is seeking compensation likely to exceed $500,000.
Along with the other complaint filings, including one already filed lawsuit, the city is
facing at least $2 million in compensation requests or demands.