Judge rejects new trial against USC professor falsely arrested on DUI charge

Updated: Jun. 2, 2017 at 11:52 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A circuit judge has turned down the City of Columbia's request for a new trial in the case of USC-Lancaster professor Darris Hassell.

Friday's decision by Judge Casey Manning follows a May 18th jury verdict in Hassell's favor after he sued the city for false arrest. The jury awarded Hassell $200,075 in damages.

A Columbia police officer stopped Hassell as he drove through downtown Columbia in February 2014.

The officer claimed Hassell had made an improper turn. The officer, who was not named in court documents, then claimed he smelled alcohol and forced Hassell to undergo a field sobriety test. Hassell said he had not been drinking and a breathalyzer test later showed he had no alcohol in his system.

The arresting officer also accused Hassell had been taking drugs, and the 47-year-old professor was taken to Palmetto Health Richland in handcuffs and forced to provide a urine sample before he was taken to jail.

Hassell's attorney says the city could not produce the sample, which should have been held as evidence.

The city could also not provide police dashcam video of the traffic stop.

The arresting officer is no longer a member of the Columbia police force.

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