4 officers accused of excessive force

Posted March 25, 2009, at 3:08 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The trial of four Gorham police officers accused of using excessive force on a man who led them on a chase has gone to the jury.

The civil trial opened Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland with a viewing of a 2-minute video that could determine the outcome. The video, shot from a police cruiser’s dashboard camera, shows the four officers beating 30-year-old Steve Johnson with their fists and flashlights. They also used pepper spray.

The Portland Press Herald says jurors began deliberations Wednesday.

Johnson and his lawyers, Sarah Churchill and Clifford Strike, say the unprovoked beating represents excessive force. The officers and their lawyer claim Johnson punched two officers before they wrestled him to the ground.

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