Jury Awards $256,000 in Malicious Prosecution Case Against State Trooper

Paul Carter Jr. with his grandmother Lucille Gill and father Paul Carter Sr. exiting Fayette County Circuit Court in a 2012 photo. (P. Muhammad/Key Newsjournal)

Posted online Monday, Aug. 6, 2017

Updated with photo 8/13/17 3:05p

By Patrice K. Muhammad

LEXINGTON, KY – Ten years and 10 months after he was falsely arrested by Kentucky State Police Officer Jason Palmer, Paul Carter Jr. was awarded more than quarter million dollars by a Fayette County jury on July 18, 2017.

Carter persevered through many attempts by the defense to dismiss the case and their attempts to enter irrelevant information to discredit him.

The civil case was based on what has been proven to be a bogus traffic stop, search, seizure and incarceration back in 2006. The ordeal involving Trooper Palmer resulted in Carter spending 12 days in jail.

Carter was finally released only after posting a $16,700 bond.

In May of 2007 all charges brought against Mr. Carter by Palmer were dropped after statements against Carter were invalidated by dashboard camera footage that was discovered after testimony.

According to Officer Palmer’s report, on October 14, 2006 he began following Carter on Versailles Road and continued to do so onto Maxwell Street because Carter was “swerving in lane”. Palmer alleged that Carter “crossed the left lane line with driver’s side tires” as he approached Broadway.

In hearings with Judge Thomas Clark, Mr. Carter plead not guilty. During the hearing Mr. Carter insisted that the squad cars’ dashboard videotape would prove that he did not break any laws and was illegally stopped by Officer Palmer. Palmer insisted that his video camera was not working that evening and there was no tape, which would leave the officers’ word against Carter.

However, Mr. Carter says that when the hearing in Judge Clark’s chambers concluded, he went directly to the State Police in Frankfort believing that there was a videotape of the stop.

Attorney Gayle Slaughter with Mr. Paul Carter outside Judge Pamela Goodwine’s courtroom September 17, 2012.

The camera was indeed operational and a supervisor located it. Carter obtained a copy and delivered it to his attorney. “I thank God for talking to me and telling me to go to Frankfort to get the tape,” said Carter in a previous interview. Carter’s 2007 public defender filed a motion that said in part, “The video of the actual stop does not back up the trooper’s testimony. It shows that the defendant signaled for a left turn, as the defendant had testified, before crossing the line to turn left…the video clearly shows that the defendant did not illegally cross the line.”

Finally, in May of 2007 all charges against Mr. Carter were dropped based on lack of evidence and the advice of Judge Thomas Clark. According to court documents “Judge [Clark] ordered the Commonwealth to produce Trooper Palmer for further examination under oath. The Court further stated that the Commonwealth may want to dismiss the case to ‘save a State Troopers’ hide.’”

The lawsuit filed by Carter and his attorney alleges he was “falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned by Defendant Palmer based on fabricated, fraudulent and misrepresented facts. The acts of [the] Defendant were extreme, outrageous, intolerable and beyond any standard of decency in a civilized society.”

The trial lasted less than two days with all 12 jurors agreeing that Palmer initiated, continued or procured a criminal charge against Mr. Carter without probable cause and with malice. Nine jurors awarded $200,000 in punitive damages to Carter then 8 of those 9 jurors, plus a different juror agreed to award $56,000 as compensation to Mr. Carter.

A Kentucky State Police YouTube video on the history of capital security, includes comments from Palmer, who was then a Sergeant.

County Attorney Larry Roberts refused to prosecute the officer even though Carter provided him with videotaped evidence of Officer Palmer’s false testimony.

During the years since this case began, Palmer has been promoted through the ranks from Officer to Sergeant to Lieutenant. Lt. Palmer is now Commander of the Kentucky State Police Legislative Security Branch which provides security for members of the Legislature and employees of the Legislative Research Commission.

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