Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wheelchair-Bound Man Tasered & Pushed Out of Wheelchair

A wheelchair-bound, legless man in Merced, California, says police officers tasered him twice, pushed him out of his wheelchair and left him handcuffed in broad daylight naked from the waist down before arresting him on charges that would never be pressed.

According to the Merced Sun-Star, the Merced Police Department is now investigating two officers who responded to a domestic disturbance call that resulted in 40-year-old Gregory Williams spending six days in jail without charges.

Several witnesses back up Williams' claims, the newspaper reports. The paper obtained a short, grainy video that appears to show Williams, naked from the waist down, sitting handcuffed outside his apartment complex.

The Sun-Star writes:

[A]lthough the two lead arresting officers are white, and Williams is black, it remains unknown whether race was a factor in the incident. Those two officers remain on duty.

Williams said the officers never used any racial epithets toward him. Although he does believe race and class played a role in his arrest, he also feels the police just wanted to be "downright nasty" to him. "They did what they did because they can get away with it," he said. "They've been doing it so long, it doesn't matter who they do it to. They just think they can get away with it."

The incident began when police responded to a call claiming an argument had broken out at Williams' home. One of the officers involved, John Pinnegar, claims Williams' wife said Williams had hit her, a charge Williams denies. Police say when they tried to take his two-year-old daughter from his lap to hand her over to Child Protective Services, Williams resisted. That's when the violence allegedly began.

In an emotional video interview, Williams said: "I'm not a violent person, I do not have a criminal background."

Added Williams: "How much resisting am I going to do with no legs, no feet? How much resisting am I going to do?"

"Williams said Pinnegar unholstered his Taser, jammed it into his rib cage and shocked him twice. Williams said he fell from his chair onto his stomach on the ground outside his doorway," the Sun-Star reports.

Williams also says an officer put his knee on Williams' neck after he was already on the ground, even though "I can't get up now -- I don't have any feet to get up with," Williams said.

He added: "And they tell me that I'm doing stupid stuff in front of my kids? These are cops and they come in my house -- what if they had accidentally tased my kid because of their [stupidity]?"

The Sun-Star reports that a "hostile" crowd gathered around the apartment building during the incident. The "apartment complex came to a roar because they were tasing a guy in a wheelchair and it was for no reason," said one witness interviewed on video.

Williams was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and resisting arrest. He spent six days in lock-up before he was released, and the county prosecutor has laid no charges.

Williams has been a double amputee since 2004, when he was diagnosed with deep-vein thrombosis that led to gangrene in his legs.

The video can be found at The Merced Sun-Star.
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