MERCED — A civil trial is expected to begin Tuesday in federal court in Fresno in the lawsuit of a legless man who sued the city of Merced after a police officer used a Taser on him in an incident about four years ago.
The plaintiff, Gregory Wil- liams, 44, claims Merced police violated his constitutional rights during an incident at his 2355 K St. apartment Sept. 11, 2009. Officers had responded to Williams' residence to investigate a report of a domestic disturbance.
Williams, a double amputee, alleges that during the incident a Taser was used on him without cause by officer John Pinnegar.
Williams said he was publicly humiliated when officers left him on the ground, handcuffed and nude from the waist down, for several minutes in front of a small crowd that had gathered to witness the incident outside his apartment.
He claims he was physically injured when officers yanked his arm, to remove him from his wheelchair, according to the lawsuit.
Attorneys representing the city maintain the officers involved in the incident were legally justified in their action, responding to a domestic violence call and concerned for the safety of Williams' child.
They claim Williams resisted officers' efforts to arrest him and would not put his hands behind his back.
Police also claim that Williams was warned he'd be shocked with a Taser if he didn't comply with their orders.
Attorneys for the city also say Pinnegar never saw Williams' crotch or genitals exposed. Video footage taken of the incident by a neighbor, however, appears to show Williams handcuffed on the pavement, with his pants down.
Williams' wife, Demtrice Pfeifer, had told responding officers Williams had punched her three times in the stomach, according to court documents.
Adante Pointer, an attorney with the Oakland-based law office of John Burris, is representing Wil- liams at the trial. San Francisco-based attorneys Dale Allen Jr. and Kevin Allen are representing the city.
Calls were placed to all attorneys in the case, but none could be reached for comment.
The trial is expected to last four days.
Williams, a lifelong Merced resident, said his legs were amputated in 2004 after he was diagnosed with deep-vein thrombosis that led to gangrene in both legs.