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Pennsylvania Man Seen Tasered by Police In Viral Video Files Lawsuit Against Department

Pennsylvania Man Tased

Sean Williams said the incident wasn’t driven by race, but rather the fact that officers weren’t doing their jobs properly. (Image courtesy of ABC News)

A Pennsylvania man Tasered in the back by a Lancaster police officer while sitting on the curb last week is now suing the department, alleging excessive force and racial profiling.

The complaint, filed by attorneys for 27–year–old Sean Williams earlier this week, names the City of Lancaster Police Department and officer Philip Bernot as defendants, according to ABC News. The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

In his complaint, Williams claims he “suffered and continues to suffer severe head, neck, shoulder and head pain,” in addition to “crippling anxiety” and “substantial shame, embarrassment, mental and physical suffering” stemming from the June 28 incident.

Williams’ shocking encounter with police made national headlines after a bystander posted a video of it on social media, where it went viral.

Bernot can be heard repeatedly ordering the man to extend his legs straight out in front of him, as the officer paces nearby with a Taser in hand. Just as Williams begins to stretch his legs straight out in front of him, as commanded, a female officer off-camera repeats the command but adds for him to cross his legs. Williams appears to fold his legs back as if to cross then, prompting Bernot to fire his Taser less than a second later.

In the lawsuit, Williams insists he was following the officers’instructions. However, he said he doesn’t believe the frightening incident was solely driven by race.

” … It was driven by the fact of the matter that the police weren’t doing their job right,” Williams told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “At the end of the day, I followed every directive that was given to me. And I feel as though no matter what race you are, what color you are, what background you are, that shouldn’t be done to you as a man or as a woman or whoever you are. Nobody should be Tased in the back in a situation where they’re not doing nothing wrong.”

The shocking incident unfolded as police responded to a 911 about a man with a bat who went after a group of three people. A press release by Lancaster police stated the people involved told authorities that the man, later identified as Williams, was known to them and wanted to fight after they came to the defense of a woman being harassed by Williams. The victims didn’t recall Williams ever having a bat, however, and no bat was found at the scene.

Not only does Williams’ lawsuit argue that use of the Taser was unwarranted, but claims officers racially profiled the man, further perpetuating Lancaster PD’s history of “intentionally discriminating” against racial minorities. The lawsuit also claims Williams’ Eighth Amendment right was violated when officers subjected him to “cruel and unusual punishment,” according to Newsweek.

Williams was taken into custody after officers learned he had an outstanding warrant stemming from previous charges of possession of a controlled substance and public drunkenness. He was later released on $5,000 bail.

 

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