STOCKTON, Calif. (CN) - School district police Tasered and beat the hell out of an innocent man, giving him a heart attack, after getting a report that some other guy had a gun seven blocks away, the man claims in court.
Danny Nessen Jr. sued Stockton Unified School District and its police Officers Miguel Hinojosa, Thomas Giles, Brett Grawet and Mario Gates, in San Joaquin County Court.
Nessen says in the lawsuit that he was walking from his father's house to his grandfather's house on Oct. 4, 2012 when Sgt. Kimberly Pinto pulled alongside him in a police cruiser, pointed her gun at him and ordered him to the ground. This was because "defendants had received a call that a man with a gun was at the School for Adults some seven (7) blocks away," according to the complaint.
Sgt. Pinto died in an incident unrelated to this event and is therefore not a party to the lawsuit.
The defendant officers arrived soon after Pinto confronted Nessen, according to the complaint.
"Without making any attempt at identification or verifying that plaintiff was the man with a gun, defendants, some with their guns drawn, ordered plaintiff to put his face down into the grass and hands behind his back to be handcuffed," the complaint states.
Nessen says he obeyed the officers' orders, and that two of them got on top of him to handcuff him, he couldn't breathe and lifted up his face to get some air.
"Defendants then Tasered him numerous times," the complaint states. "During this struggle, plaintiff was struck in the head area ten to fifteen times by defendant Giles, who was sitting on him at the time. Plaintiff's head was pushed into the grass numerous times and his hair was pulled back. Additionally, plaintiff was struck by batons and the feet and fists of the defendants. Twice on the right arm, plaintiff was struck by defendant Hinojosa's baton. Eventually, plaintiff was handcuffed.
"Toward the end of this process, plaintiff vomited and then went into cardiac arrest. American Medical Response arrived and was able to resuscitate plaintiff. Plaintiff was transported to St. Joseph's Medical Center, where he spent two (2) days while on a breathing tube. After he was released from the hospital he was arrested by the defendants and spent sixty-six (66) days in jail before he was able to obtain his release by posting bail."
Nessen claims the officers had no reason to attack him, as he was unarmed and never posed a threat to them throughout the incident.
He claims the school district fails to properly train its police officers and has a policy of refusing to investigate its officers' actions, allowing them to file false police reports to get away with misconduct.
Jennifer Dodge, executive assistant to Stockton Unified School District's Superintendent Steve Lowder, said Lowder does not "make a habit of commenting on pending litigation." The school district's media spokesman was out of the office Thursday and today.
Nessen seeks compensatory and punitive damages for battery, false imprisonment and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Kenneth N. Meleyco.