Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DEA Agent's Road Rage Incident: Federal Court Judgment

The Kansas City Star reporter Joe Lambe reports on the federal civil trial involving a DEA agent who in a road rage incident went wild on a local man, causing serious physical and neurological injuries. 

"When Barron Bowling wouldn’t let a car pass him from the right seven years ago, it sparked road rage that left him beaten and lying on blistering pavement.  Bowling’s attacker turned out to be federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent Timothy McCue, who was in an unmarked car with two colleagues.

Bowling won $833,250 in federal court Friday for the beating, which left him with severe brain damage and post-traumatic stress.  U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled that Bowling, of Kansas City, Kan., suffered assault, battery and excessive force from 'road rage fueled by egos and unwarranted self-righteousness.'  [Judge] Robinson [also] wrote that Kansas City, Kan[sas]., police management forced Detective Max Seifert into early retirement after he tried to report honestly what happened to Bowling.

[The Judge worte that t]he treatment of Seifert was 'shameful' after he crossed 'the thin blue line,' the judge wrote. Seifert’s findings went against those of the DEA officers, but Wyandotte County prosecutors charged Bowling anyway with causing a traffic accident with the DEA agent’s car.  The Wyandotte County Unified Government also was a defendant in the case but settled last year for $425,000. The government admitted no wrongdoing on claims of malicious prosecution, abuse of process and conspiracy.

A Wyandotte County jury earlier found Bowling not guilty of the felony of intentionally causing the wreck but convicted him of leaving the scene of the accident, for what he contended was driving a short distance so he wouldn’t block traffic.  Attorneys on both sides Monday declined to comment on the case.

Bowling also declined to comment, but his attorney, Cheryl Pilate, said, 'We believe justice was done.'

[Judge] Robinson heard the lawsuit without a jury. She listened to 19 days of testimony.

Among findings in the judge’s 48-page verdict:

The case stemmed from a minor sideswipe crash in Kansas City, Kan., on July 10, 2003.

Bowling, now 36, was driving north on Tenth Street when he noticed a car trying to illegally pass him on the right side. He sped up, but the other car still tried to pass him. The cars bumped, and shortly after both pulled over.

As Bowling got out of his car, McCue rushed toward him with a gun pointed at him. Bowling was shirtless when McCue and another agent forced him stomach down onto the hot pavement. It was 98 degrees outside.

Bowling tried to push himself up with one hand, and McCue hit him several times with his fist and/or with the butt of a gun.

'The court also finds that McCue kicked the plaintiff several times while (Bowling) was fully handcuffed and laying on the ground,' the ruling states.

McCue also called Bowling names like 'inbred hillbilly,' the ruling states. And when he learned from dispatch that Bowling had no prior convictions, McCue called him 'system-dodging white trash.'

The agents with whom McCue was working undercover did not stop him during the attack.

According to the ruling, McCue claimed that Bowling rammed McCue’s car, almost causing McCue's vehicle to hit a utility pole. In McCue’s version, he hit Bowling’s shoulders and neck with an open hand as a way to control him. He admitted that he struck Bowling in the back of his head and on his face, causing a black eye.

McCue also admitted calling Bowling 'white trash'  and other names, according to the ruling.

The judge ruled that she did not believe McCue’s version of the accident. Bowling 'did not intentionally ram McCue’s vehicle,' she wrote. 'Indeed, a jury reached the same conclusion' when it found Bowling not guilty of causing the wreck. She agreed with the jury 'by a very strong preponderance of the evidence.'

The government used McCue’s assertion that Bowling caused the accident and then evaded arrest as justification for how McCue and another agent tried to control him as they arrested him, Robinson ruled.

Seifert, the detective whom the judge praised for honest work that got him 'castigated by his superiors, by the prosecutor, by the DEA,' paid a high price, the ruling states.  [Detective] Seifert was forced into retirement before his retirement benefits were fully vested, the judge said. He was even denied a routine commission that would allow him to work as a security guard."
The judge get's it right when she correctly points to the egos involved in the incident, injuries, and persecution of the one honest cop.

Good judge!


  1. These police brutality stories are mind blowing, BL. At least justice seems like its happening courtesy of the Federal judge who made the decision. It seems like when a cop or a soldier has a choice to back the good cop or bad cop the formerly good cops back the bad cop over the one that is brave enough to tell the truth. Doesn't it? Why is that?


  2. "At least justice seems like its happening courtesy of the Federal judge who made the decision"

    Justice? Are you kidding? A few hundred grand for a ruined life. The cop, and his thug friends who tried to cover it up, still work for the DEA. Full pension.

    Any one of us would get a few decades in the pen for attempted homicide for doing the same thing that cop did.

    Oh, and the only reason this happened is because the detective ignore pressure to lie. Unreal.

    This is far from justice.

  3. Anon @ 7:39--

    I agree with you as it relates to the inadequacy of the outcome in terms of legal consequences for the perpetrator of this violent crime and those of his fellow officers who maintained the thin-blue-line of silence. But this was a civil lawsuit and while the amounts seem inadequate to you, I think I am heartened to see a Judge throw a rhetorical book at this Bad Cop and his enablers.

  4. Kick down McCue's doors and I'm pretty sure you'll find an undercover DEA agent with an underage hooker, cranked out on cocaine, and taking deals from the cartels. If the profile fits then you quite simply "burn" it along with the other agents involved. Nice to know undercover agents still live the lavish inbred class society roles that befit them. As a former loss prevention guy who lost a career in being "burned" by assholes like McCue I don't feel any real sympathy in outing what it is that they do.

  5. Max Seifert and I became soldiers together when we served in the Army Reserves for six years. I was a KCMO cop at that time and Max asked me questions from time to time about my job. He later became a KCK cop and worked his way to being a detective.
    I commend Max for remaining honest and accurately reporting what he uncovered in his investigation despite the fact that it involved a DEA agent. DEA agents are simply former cops that became federal government employees and why they think they have special autonomy is beyond me. However, it appears the courts believe they should get away with misconduct since the agent is still employed and the "good" cop is out.
    Please don't assume that all cops are bad. All the guys I worked with on the police department would not have stood for a cover-up nor would they have pulled such a life threatening stunt as pulled by the DEA agent.
    I worked with federal agents in my time on the force and I saw the arrogant attitude some of them had and for the life of me, I don't know where that comes from. They're just federal cops.
    Whatever happens to Max, I hope it turns out alright and that those who burned him get their time in hell.