SPOKANE - A man is accusing Moses Lake police of violating his civil rights when they used a Taser on him.
Juan M. Gonzalez is suing Moses Lake, the Moses Lake Police Department along with the police chief, a sergeant and three officers in U.S. District Court. The case was originally filed in Grant County, but was moved by the request of attorneys for the city's insurance company.
Gonzalez is accusing the officers, who reportedly responded to a domestic violence call in August 2010, of violating his civil rights, depriving him of equal protection under the law, discrimination, false arrest, inflicting emotional distress and defamation, when he was shot with a Taser and arrested, according to court records. He claims the agency and city didn't train the officers well enough on the use of Tasers, didn't supervise them well enough and are liable for the actions of the officers.
Moses Lake City Manager Joseph Gavinski said he would love to comment, but couldn't since the case was presently in litigation.
Gonzalez' allegations start when three Moses Lake police officers arrived at Gonzalez' home after reports of yelling, said Douglas Phelps, Gonzalez' attorney. One of the officers claimed Gonzalez had made vague threats to him before.
When Gonzalez answered the door, he allegedly told the officers nothing was wrong, Phelps said reading from the police report. The officers reportedly told
Gonzalez he was being detained and Gonzalez refused. When he was talking to the officers, Gonzalez allegedly "yelled at us to calm down."
Gonzalez reportedly started walking back into the residence. The officers told him to stop, and claim Gonzalez turned and appeared to take up a fighting stance, Phelps said. The officers shot him with the Taser. Gonzalez allegedly fell to his knees, and officers ordered him to his stomach. Gonzalez reportedly went rigid, so officers used the Taser a second time. When they pried his hands open, they allegedly found a pair of fingernail clippers.
"Essentially they tased him for no reason at all," Phelps said. "He had a herniated abdominal lining on his stomach ... They're shooting a lot of voltage into you."
The officers cited Gonzalez for obstructing a law enforcement officer, according to court records. The Grant County District Court file contains the citation, which states the officers told Gonzalez to get on the ground. Gonzalez allegedly took up a fighting stance and they had to use a Taser.
The case was dismissed in April 2012, according to court records.
Gonzalez alleges the officers entered the residence without a search warrant or any other authority allowing them to enter the residence, according to the complaint. He reportedly needed medical treatment for injuries from the officers using the Taser.
Gonzalez is seeking payment for medical expenses, loss of earning, property damage and enjoyment of life, according to the complaint. Along with payment, Gonzalez wants Moses Lake to institute polices and procedures concerning discrimination, the use of force and laws concerning search, seizure and arrest.
"He's interested in damages and changing the practices of use of force and search and seizure," Phelps said.