A Los Angeles federal jury awarded $6 million in damages to a Compton bus driver who claimed he was racially profiled by sheriff’s deputies who beat him after a traffic stop.

Following a three-day civil trial, a jury last Thursday found Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Sgt. Pablo Partida and Deputy Robert Martinez liable for excessive force and malicious prosecution against 33-year-old Deon Dirks.

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the award is “excessive” and the department will probably appeal.

According to court documents, the case stems from a traffic stop on Wilmington Avenue in Compton the morning of Nov. 4, 2007.

Dirks contends he was ordered out of his car, pepper-sprayed, punched in the face, arrested and finally charged with assault on a police officer and resisting arrest, according to plaintiff’s attorney Glen Jonas.

Dirks claims the deputies racially profiled him, saying that they thought he was gang member and when they thought he had questioned their authority, the excessive force began. Dirks was jailed for five days, and then spent more than six months fighting the criminal charges against him before they were dismissed.

The money awarded breaks down to $5 million dollars in compensatory damages, as well as $1 million in punitive damages against the sheriff’s department.

“We believe our deputies’ use of force was appropriate,” Whitmore said.

Jonas said a criminal jury deadlocked in favor of finding Dirks not guilty in 2008 and prosecutors subsequently dismissed all charges.

After the dismissal, Dirks filed the federal complaint, alleging deprivation of civil rights, excessive force and malicious prosecution.

During the civil trial, Dirks argued that Partida and Martinez submitted false police reports and lied under oath during the criminal case.

“This is the fourth time the case has come before a magistrate,” Whitmore said.

After the criminal proceedings, an earlier attempt in federal court was dismissed, but brought back after a successful appeal to a higher court, Whitmore said.