During what should have been considered a routine traffic stop, Julius Wilson, of North Charleston, South Carolina, was forcibly pulled out of his car and restrained on his stomach by the officer that pulled him over and those that then responded to the scene. After being forced to the ground, Mr. Wilson placed his hands above his head, palms facing down. Two officers then started to place him in handcuffs. At that point, although Wilson was compliant and about to be handcuffed, the third officer stood and fired his Taser gun at Wilson’s back.
The officer who used a Taser against Wilson was Michael Slager, the same North Charleston Police Officer who fatally shot Walter Scott in the back as he ran following a traffic stop.
Wilson filed a lawsuit against the City of North Charleston Police Department, Eddie Diggers, the Chief of Police, and the three involved officers, including Michael Slager. The lawsuit brings federal claims pursuant to Section 1983 for, inter alia, excessive force and due process violations.
The excessive use of force by law enforcement using Tasers has occurred throughout the Chicago-area, as well, and Loevy & Loevy has successfully handled federal litigation involving such incidents.
Kopek v. City of Aurora et al., Case No. 10-cv-5593: In September of 2008, Mr. Kopek’s wife was pulled over and arrested for driving with a suspended license plate and a suspended driver’s license. The officer’s information was incorrect; she had both a valid license plate and driver’s license. When Mr. Kopek arrived at the scene of his wife’s arrest, one officer removed his Taser gun from its holster and aimed it at Mr. Kopek’s head, shouting at him to leave. Plaintiff turned to walk away. As he did so, and without any legal justification, the officer shot Plaintiff in the back with the Taser gun. A federal jury awarded Mr. Kopek $35,000 for his damages arising from this incident.
Lassie v. Village of LaGrange Park et al., Case No. 09-cv-7958: In April of 2009, Mr. Lassie, a diabetic, suffered a diabetes induced seizure. His roommate found him unresponsive on the floor and called 911. During the care from the first responders, Mr. Lassie’s arm flailed out as a result of his seizure, striking one of the officers. Reacting to the involuntary movement—in an unreasonable and unjustifiable manner—the officer pushed him to the ground and restrained him. Defendant Pedota then withdrew his Taser and electrocuted Mr. Lassie eleven times. Fifty-six seconds of electric shock was inflicted on Mr. Lassie causing him continuing neurological damage. Plaintiff alleged claims of excessive force and failure to intervene pursuant to Section 1983. Plaintiff settled this lawsuit for a confidential amount.
Scott v. City of Peoria et al., Case No. 09-cv-01189: In May of 2008, Mr. Scott was pulled over for what should have been a routine traffic stop. One officer approached Mr. Scott, who was in the driver’s seat, with his firearm drawn and ordered him to shut off his car and put his hands out the window. Mr. Scott complied. He was then pepper-sprayed and forcibly removed from his car. He lay on the ground and, without any lawful justification, he was beaten and Tasered three times to his back and leg. Plaintiff settled this lawsuit for a confidential amount.
Testa v. County of Lake et al., Case No. 12-cv-00435: In January of 2010, Lake County Sheriff Deputies forced their way into the Testa home while seeking to execute an arrest warrant against their son. When Mr. Testa stated that he was going to call his attorney, the Sheriff Deputies entered the home and, without any legal justification, restrained Mr. Testa. Then, at point-blank range, Defendant Deputy Pomazal Tasered Mr. Testa in the back, near his spine, causing him to collapse. Mr. Testa reported excruciating pain in his back as a result of the Taser. A Taser prong was later discovered lodged in his spine. Plaintiff settled this lawsuit for a confidential amount.