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Settlement reached in lawsuit against Lee sheriff, deputies over arrest

Posted June 2, 2015

Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter
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— A federal lawsuit over a rough 2009 arrest in Lee County has been settled days before it was set to go to trial.

Steven "Wayne" Thomas sued Sheriff Tracy Carter and several deputies, seeking more than $3 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.

According to the suit, Thomas started acting irrationally after working with chemicals in his tobacco fields. As his friend was driving him to seek medical help, Thomas jumped out of the pickup and destroyed a woman's decorative fence.

When deputies arrived to arrest him, they assaulted him and broke his jaw, the lawsuit alleges. One deputy used his stun gun on Thomas eight times in less than three minutes, according to the suit.

The dispute escalated last month when Carter was accused of having a man who was trying to serve him with a subpoena arrested.

A 71-year-old man hired to deliver subpoenas in the lawsuit said that, when he showed up at Carter's house, the sheriff yelled at him and blocked him from leaving until deputies showed up to arrest the man.

According to a motion filed Friday in federal court, both sides have agreed on a settlement and expect to have the deal finalized within 60 days.

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