Supervisors OK $650,000 deal in Vestal case The settlement pays the two sons and family attorneys of Jay Vestal, who died during an '03 arrest attempt Nathan Welton The Tribune The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the settlement of a $650,000 lawsuit between the county and the children of Jay Vestal, who died while deputies tried to arrest him Aug. 18, 2003. The settlement awarded $150,000 to each of the man's young sons and $350,000 to the family's attorneys. The lawsuit alleged that deputies used excessive force when they arrested the man at Templeton Mobile Home Park in the driveway of his girlfriend's home. According to County Administrator David Edge, the settlement was a smaller financial burden on taxpayers because the legal system could have required the county to pay for lawyers' fees had a jury awarded the boys even a modest sum of money out of pity. Those fees, Edge said, could have amounted to well more than $1 million. "The decision to settle was a bitter pill for the board to swallow, as the facts show our deputies acted completely within the law throughout the arrest," Edge said in a statement. Deputies tried to arrest Vestal because he had a warrant for failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. A videotape shot from a camera in a sheriff's patrol car shows Vestal resisted deputies for five minutes, kicking and screaming on the ground. After applying leg and hand restraints to the man, deputies found that he had no pulse. They performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and used a defibrillator until an ambulance arrived. Vestal was pronounced dead later at Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton. Separate investigations by the Sheriff's Department, District Attorney's Office and FBI cleared the deputies of any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, two pathologists' reports concluded that Vestal's struggling and high levels of cocaine and methamphetamine in his body contributed to his death. Sheriff Pat Hedges told the board Tuesday that although Vestal's death was unfortunate, it was a potential outcome for a drug user. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/local/10570519.htm Questions: 1) If there was no wrongdoing on the part of the Sheriff's Deputies, why did the county pay out $650k? I am not saying there was any wrongdoing, my skepticism is directed at the Board of Supervisors and the County Counsel's office. 2) How does this affect the deputies involved in the arrest? Negatively, I would think. Forevermore the fact that Vestal died during his arrest and the county paid a $650K settlement will follow them around, although they were exonerated. 3) If there was no wrongdoing, why didn't the County Counsel's office defend the lawsuit? Edge says the defense could have cost $1 million, but that's because they always hire outside lawyers for this kind of stuff. Is the County Counsel's office not competent to defend a lawsuit? If not, how do they justify their existence? 4) How the hell do the attorneys walk away with $350k out of the $650k?