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Civil Rights Attorney from Scottsdale Injury Lawyers Begins Trial in High Profile Police Excessive Force Case

By: Scottsdale Injury Lawyers LLC January 12, 2020 no comments

Civil Rights Attorney from Scottsdale Injury Lawyers Begins Trial in High Profile Police Excessive Force Case

On January 6, 2020, C. Tony Piccuta, founder and lead trial attorney from Scottsdale Injury Lawyers, began trial in a civil rights case. The case alleges that the firm’s client was the victim of police excessive force. Specifically, that an undercover police officer beat the client because the client told the police officer to mind his own business. The client was sixteen years old at the time.

The Allegations in the Police Excessive Force Case

The client claims that after he got into an argument with a store clerk at a convenience store, a man behind him in line told him to leave the store. The client told the man to mind his own business and the man told the client he was a police officer. The client told the police officer, “I don’t see a badge on you and I don’t care, I’m not doing anything wrong” or words to that effect. The client then turned and left. As he was walking out of the store, the police officer, who was a plain-clothes detective and on duty at the time, grabbed from behind as he was exiting. The police officer then took the client to the ground, pinned him with his knee, and punched him in the face several times.

The officer’s partner was there and came over to assist. The client was handcuffed. While on the ground and in handcuffs, the police officer took the client’s head from behind and smashed the client’s face into the floor of the store. The client was then taken to the station and cited for trespassing and resisting arrest.

The video-surveillance will be the center-piece of the evidence and presented several more times during the trial.

After the client was taken out of the convenience store, the police officer staged evidence at the scene. Specifically, the police officer took hand-held shopping baskets that had been in a rack, and placed them in the middle of the aisle. The officer wrote in his police report that he and the client were struggling and tripped over the baskets. The police officer claimed that the client landed face first causing him to lose his teeth.

The Baskets as Originally Positioned
The Baskets as Staged by the Police Officer

The police officer also wrote in his police report that he saw a digital scale in the client’s hand which led him to believe the client was an armed drug dealer. No scale was recovered or booked into evidence. The police officer also wrote in his report that he only punched the client because the client was spitting blood and he wanted the client to turn his head because he was concerned about blood-borne diseases. There was no mention in the police report of the officer slamming the client’s face into the ground while in handcuffs.

The Injuries Sustained and the Civil Rights Claims Advanced by Our Police Excessive Force Attorney

The client sustained injuries. The client’s front two teeth were knocked out and a third tooth chipped. The client also had his lower lip split requiring multiple stitches to repair. The client was also diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder from the events. He would later suffer from depression that he claimed was caused by the event and the loss of his teeth. The client also claimed that he experienced recurring nightmares of the incident that caused him to wet his bed. The client treated with a mental health professional for these issues. Below are actual images from the police file.

The civil rights lawsuit filed by Piccuta advanced several claims that will be ruled on by a jury during the trial. Those claims include:  battery by a police officer, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unlawful arrest and violations of rights under the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech—Piccuta claims that the officer retaliated against the client for what he said. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from excessive force and unlawful search and seizure—Piccuta claims that the officer used excessive force and did not have probable cause to arrest and seize the client. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right of someone who is arrested to receive needed medical care—Piccuta claims that the officers were deliberately indifferent to the client’s need for medical care and mouth injury.

The Events During the First Week of the Civil Rights Trial

During the first week of trial, Piccuta and defense attorneys spent three days selecting a jury. After the defense attorneys began removing African-American jurors, Piccuta challenged the removal of those jurors as being based on race only. The defense attorneys did not remove any other African-American jurors after that. The twelve-person jury ultimately selected had one African-American. The firm’s client is African-American.

Piccuta gave an emotionally charged opening statement where he fought back tears several times.

Piccuta gave an emotionally charged opening statement where he fought back tears several times. The opening statement lasted 45 minutes and presented the video surveillance of the event. The video-surveillance will be the center-piece of the evidence and presented several more times during the trial. In his opening statement, Piccuta claimed that the beating of the client was calculated, malicious and then covered up by the officers.

Both the main police officer and his partner attended trial as named defendants. Each officer is represented by different attorneys and law firms. Both defense attorneys gave opening statements as well. The attorney for the main police officer claimed that the officer acted quickly to a rapidly evolving situation and his use of force was reasonable and complied with police training and standards. The attorney for the other officer claimed that his client did not witness any of the strikes, did not know what was going on and did not have a chance to intervene.

Piccuta also put on evidence during the first week of trial. Piccuta called Joseph Green’s mother to testify as to what she saw at the scene and how the incident affected her son. Piccuta called a bystander who testified to what he saw at the scene and remembered. Piccuta also began the examination of the second officer who claimed he did not know what was happening.

The Police Excessive Force Case Brought By Our Civil Rights Attorney Followed Closely By Media

The high-profile case is being covered by several media outlets. Click any of the links below to read what the media reported after the first week of the police excessive force trial.

Story published by the Record.

Story published by the Vanguard.

Contact a Civil Rights Attorney Today If You Were the Victim of Police Excessive Force

If you or someone you love has experienced a violation of your civil rights by law enforcement or police excessive force, contact C. Tony Piccuta at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers today. Piccuta routinely handles civil rights case against police. He has obtained multiple six and seven figure settlement and verdicts for his clients. He has obtained jury verdicts in civil rights cases in both state and federal court.

If you call, a skilled civil rights attorney will provide a free consultation at no charge. If Scottsdale Injury Lawyers takes your case, it will be on a contingent fee. This means it will cost you nothing for the representation and that the attorney only earns a fee if he recovers for you. The firm also advances all costs of advancing the claims and lawsuit.

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