PHOENIX (CN) – Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies working off-duty security at the Phoenix International Raceway mercilessly beat and Tasered a man and his son “without provocation or cause,” the family says.
Michael Wyman, his wife Jan and his son Wade “were enjoying a day with friends at the NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway” on Nov. 13, 2010, according to their complaint in Maricopa County Court. The family decided to go to the racetrack’s Speed Cantina, where Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies provide security.
Michael Wyman said he was approached by a friend who he had not seen in a long time, and after he greeted the friend with “a high five and bear hugs,” Deputy Preston Boyer “without verbal warning or command and without provocation or cause, approached Michael from behind and began to choke Michael using a choke hold.”
Michael, “disoriented and unable to see his unidentified attacker, grabbed onto his assailant’s arm to try to loosen the choke hold so he could breathe and to free himself,” he says. Another sheriff’s officer then pushed his wife aside “and Tasered Michael in the back,” according to the complaint.
As Michael lay on the floor, the family says, a second sheriff’s officer Tasered him again. His wife “begged the MCSO deputies to stop, but a deputy shoved Jan in the chest with both of his hands and ordered her to get back,” the complaint states.
When the Wyman’s daughter, Melissa, also pleaded with the deputies to stop, a deputy threatened to Taser her too. A deputy threatened to Taser the friend that Michael had high-fived, as well.
Jan Wyman says she went to her husband, who was lying face-down on the ground, “to hold his face off of the ground, his mouth foaming and his body still rigid and convulsing from the electrical shocks,” and deputies ordered her away and threatened to Taser her again.
Although her husband “was disabled and immobilized by the Taser shocks, the MCSO deputies then stomped on Michael’s arms, kicked him, and handcuffed him,” according to the complaint.
The Wymans’ friends told the deputies “there was no reason for the deputies’ conduct,” and one friend, a Phoenix firefighter, told deputies “that they could not continue to Taser Michael after Michael was handcuffed.” Ron Wilson identified himself as a Phoenix firefighter, but a deputy told him “he did not ‘care who the fuck’ Wilson was and then threatened to Taser Wilson, too,” the complaint states.
When the son, Wade Wyman, asked the deputies why they were assaulting his father the deputies “began to shove Wade backwards, and continued to shove Wade even after he raised his hand to indicate that he was not resisting nor was he attempting to touch the MCSO deputies.” Then the deputies Tasered Wade, and one deputy “kicked and kneed Wade in the ribs as he handcuffed Wade,” the lawsuit states.
Michael and Wade were moved behind a gated area, where they sat for an hour before the deputies decided to search them. In response to orders, Michael stood up and spread his legs to be searched, but one deputy “laughed and said, ‘Oh, I guess you aren’t listening!’ and kicked and stomped on Michael’s right leg and foot.”
Two deputies restrained Michael’s arms “while the first deputy continued to kick him; the kicks and stomps struck Michael’s Tasered leg and the inside of his foot,” the Wymans claim.
Michael Wyman says he was hospitalized after the “unprovoked and unjustified attacks,” and underwent multiple surgeries “on his Tasered calf and broken foot.”
Criminal charges were filed against Michael, and dismissed; no criminal charges were ever filed against Wade.
The Wymans seek punitive damages for gross negligence, assault and battery, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.
Defendants include Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Preston Boyer, William R. Cox, George Inuaki, Michael Martinez, Ryan Neville, Nicholas Perez, and Dominick Reaulo.
The Wymans represented by Daniel Treon with Treon & Shook.