Insult to Mortal Injury

The short life and times of Johnny Jardine, Part 2

Harding Cure, a lawyer representing the City of Tempe and its firefighters, does indeed allege that Johnny required restraint. He notes that nearly 10 years ago, Johnny was arrested by Fort Myers, Florida, police and charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

"This young man had a very violent history," says Cure.

That's a claim the family adamantly denies. "If Johnny's 130-pound sister could handle Johnny and his seizures, these grown men ought to have been able to," Debbie Jardine says.

Johnny's father says that Johnny was pulled over for running a red light shortly after he moved from Michigan to Florida. Johnny balked when the officer demanded he sign the ticket -- Johnny thought that would be admitting guilt, and he didn't believe he'd done anything wrong. The officer informed Johnny that he would be arrested if he didn't sign. Johnny said that was fine with him, and went to secure his car before being carted off to jail. But Johnny, whose motor skills were diminished because of two temporal lobectomies, was a slow-moving chap. He was taking too much time. The inexperienced cop perceived Johnny's disabilities as malingering, and he did a Rodney King on him.

"The officer assaulted Johnny," his father says. "And he and his fellow officers beat him to a living pulp."

Johnny was hospitalized for his injuries. But when he was tried for assault and resisting arrest, the jury acquitted him in 29 minutes. Johnny subsequently sued Fort Myers for violating his civil rights and won a $30,000 settlement.

"They'll go back to anything that's happened in Johnny's life and put their own little twist on it," John III says.

Cure says Manning's portrayals of his clients are "scandals . . . intended to inflame people. That's the tragedy in this case. There's some very fine men who are being inappropriately defamed. Their whole reason for being is helping others."

Manning counters: "There is indeed a scandal, but it didn't start in this office. The minute they grabbed Johnny and threw him to the ground, that's when the scandal started. And it continues after his death."

Read Part 1

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