SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - Heber City police broke an elderly man's prosthetic arm during a bogus arrest for driving in Utah with a Colorado license, the man claims in Federal Court.
Danny Baker sued police Officers Michael Stowe and Officer Brunnell on Jan. 30, seeking $1.5 million in damages, plus treble damages.
Baker has a prosthetic arm due to a construction accident in the 1970s. He says he spends a lot of time in Utah for medical reasons, and that he drives slowly there because he likes to keep an eye out for deer and elk.
He was doing that when Officer Stowe stopped him outside of Heber City in August 2013, for a cracked windshield.
Brunnell, whose first name is not listed in the complaint, assisted Stowe.
Baker claims that Stowe ran his license through a computer and then "insisted that Mr. Baker was driving without a valid license because Officer Stowe's search of his database revealed that Mr. Baker had previously possessed a Utah driver's license."
Baker's Utah license expired in 1988, he says, after he moved to Colorado.
Stowe "persisted," however, and told him that his Colorado license was invalid because he did not have a Utah license, Baker says.
He says Stowe ordered him out of his car and arrested him for "'driving on a denied license, fail[ure] to stop, expired license, [and] cracked windshield.'" (Brackets in complaint, which cites a police report of the incident.)
According to Stowe's police report, Baker replied: "you ain't touching me with those cuffs till you read me my rights."
Baker says he "immediately" informed the officers that he had a prosthesis in his arm, and that he could not comply with the order to place his hands behind his back.
"Officer Bunnell responded to this information by grabbing Mr. Baker's arm. Officer Stowe then grabbed Mr. Baker's left hand and elbow, and forcibly turned Mr. Baker toward the car, while forcing Mr. Baker's arms behind his back," the complaint states.
It continues: "Officer Bunnell exerted such great force upon Mr. Baker's arm that the prosthesis in Mr. Baker's arm snapped, breaking Mr. Baker's arm, destroying the prosthesis, and resulting in severe pain to Mr. Baker."
The abuse didn't stop there, Baker says.
"Even during the booking process, despite the open and obvious disfiguration of Mr. Baker's arm, Officer Stowe did nothing to address Mr. Baker's broken arm or the severe pain Mr. Baker was experiencing," the lawsuit states.
Baker says the police denied him medical treatment for hours, until he was released on bail, and his daughter took him to a hospital."
He says criminal charges against him were dismissed when his attorney showed "evidence and videotapes from the arrest" to a prosecuting attorney.
Baker seeks punitive damages for unreasonable seizure and excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution.
He is represented by Justin Heideman of Provo.
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