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Jailed N. Charleston Cop Sued Over Taser Incident

(CN) - Former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, now jailed for the killing of an unarmed man during a traffic stop, is being sued by a man who says the disgraced officer Tased him without cause last year.

In a lawsuit filed in Charleston County, S.C., Julius Garnett Wilson says he was stopped by another North Charleston police officer, defendant Brad Woods, in the early morning hours of August 25, 2014.

Wilson, reportedly a felon with a history of drug arrests and a conviction for interfering with police, claims the traffic stop was initially nothing but routine. He claims he made small talk with the officer as he was being questioned, and provided Woods with a valid Georgia driver's license.

Woods returned to his police cruiser, and requested the presence of additional officers due to Wilson "demeanor," the complaint says. Ten minute later, Woods returned to Wilson's car, accompanied by Officer Slager.

Wilson claims that while Woods awaited backup, the officer determined he was driving under a suspended South Carolina license. He says Woods, Slager and a third officer, Jerome Clemens, placed him under arrest.

Then, "Defendants Slager, Woods, and Clemens ... forcibly pulled Mr. Wilson out of his vehicle, and forcibly restrained Wilson on his stomach on the pavement face down," the complaint says.

"At this time, Mr. Wilson was not moving, nor resisting the force of Defendants Slager, Woods, or Clemens in any way," it continues. "As Defendants Woods and Clemens were placing Wilson's hands behind his back, Defendant Slager stood over Wilson, and stated to Defendants Woods and Clements, "Watch out! I'm going to Tase!"

"At this time, despite Wilson's full cooperation, Defendant Slager - both in violation of Defendant NCPD policies and procedures, and with excessive and unlawful force - shot his NCPD duty-issued Taser into Wilson's back," the complaint says.

Wilson claims that as he writhed in pain from the electric shock Slager administered, the officer threatened to shock him again with his Taser. He says Woods and Clemens then escorted him to one of the nearby cruisers and charged him with driving with a suspended license. He then the officers offered by medical attention by ambulance to address his Taser-related injuries.

Wilson says his fear of Slager caused him to forego medical treatment, and that the charge against him was eventually dropped by the City of North Charleston.

He says he later learned that in 2013, Slager had also used excessive force against another individual, identified as Mario Givens.

According to Wilson, "Slager [T]ased Mr. Givens for no reason, slammed Givens, and dragged him to the ground."

"Plaintiff is further informed and does believe that the department of internal affairs of Defendant NCPD was put on notice of Defendant Slager's previous use of excessive force and unlawful force, yet continued to allow Slager to carry a Taser in the course of his NCPD duties," the complaint says.

It continues: "Despite the clear and obvious excessive force that Defendant Slager used against Mario Givens in 2013, Defendant Diggers and other policy-making authorities, including, but not limited to NCPD and the City, did nothing to further investigate this wrongdoing, did nothing to punish and correct such improper behavior on the part of Slager, and upon information and belief, these Defendants have an unwritten policy to simply 'look the other way' and are in fact deliberately indifferent to the past and current improper behavior of NCPD officers such as Slager."

Wilson seeks actual, consequential and punitive damages on claims of improper search and seizure, excessive force, violations of due process, deliberate indifference, negligence, gross negligence and infliction of severe and extreme emotional distress.

He is represented by John T. Gentry III of the Clekis Law Firm in Charleston.

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