Trial set to begin Monday over man's claim he was brutalized by Corbin police
A Williamsburg man who claims Corbin Police tazed him twice and pepper sprayed him during a traffic stop on U.S. 25 in April 2010, before slamming the door of the police cruiser on his legs, will get his day in court beginning Monday.
Wiley Smith, who filed the brutality lawsuit in U.S. District Court in March 2011, is seeking unspecified damages.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed March 31 in U.S. District Court in London, Corbin Police Officer Rick Baker stopped Smith on U.S. 25W on April 2, 2010.
Smith claims he complied with Baker's request to see his driver's license and proof of insurance. Smith added that he got out of his car at Baker's request even though he uses a cane.
"For no legitimate reason, Baker shot (Smith) with an electrically charged Taser and (Smith) fell to the ground in convulsions," Smith stated in the lawsuit.
Soon after, Smith claims that Officer Coy Wilson arrived on scene and used his Taser on Smith.
"The Tasing of (Smith) by Baker and Wilson was so severe that (Smith) convulsed violently on the ground and was unable to rise up or stand," Smith stated in the lawsuit. "Corbin Fire and EMS were called to assist."
Smith said he was then loaded into the back of a police cruiser, after which one of the officers slammed the door on his legs, injuring his right leg and ankle. From there, Smith stated he was taken to the Whitley County Detention Center. However, due to his injuries, jail officials refused to lodge him in the facility, leading Baker to take him to Baptist Regional Medical Center.
Even though he was brought to the hospital, Smith claims Baker did not seek medical attention for him, but rather requested a blood sample be taken before taking him back to the jail.
"Smith was transported by wheelchair back to Baker's police car, transported back to the Whitley County Jail and imprisoned without necessary medical treatment," Smith stated in the lawsuit.
Once at the jail, Smith claims jail officials refused to seek medical treatment for his injuries even though one of the jail staff remarked that his leg was broken.
"While incarcerated at the Whitley County Jail, (Smith) was left to endure the pain associated with his injuries and made to crawl to the toilet and to his bed with the apparent broken right leg and dislocated ankle," Smith stated in the lawsuit.
Smith added that he was finally released from the jail on April 4, 2010, but neither his car nor his cane were returned.
The trial is expected to last five days. However, following Judge Gregory VanTatenhove’s ruling following the final pretrial hearing on Jan. 11, there will be fewer defendants and fewer complaints.
In the original complaint, Smith named: City of Corbin, Willard McBurney in official capacity as Mayor, Corbin Police Department, Chief David Campbell in official capacity, Officer Rick Baker individually and in official capacity, Officer Coy Wilson in his official and individual capacity, Whitley County, and Jailer Ken Mobley in his individual capacity.
Smith’s complaint accuses the defendants of: Use of excessive force, deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, failure to train, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
In an opinion filed along with his ruling, VanTatenhove dismissed the complaint against Baker, Campbell, McBurney and Wilson in their respective official capacities, and the Corbin Police Department, noting that the suit against the city and the individual representatives in their official capacities is redundant.
McBurney, Campbell, Baker and Wilson in official capacity are functionally equivalent to charges against City of Corbin.
“Thus the City of Corbin is the true defendant, and all claims against McBurney and Campbell, in their official capacities, and the Corbin Police Department are dismissed,” VanTatenhove stated.
While not dismissing the suit against Baker and Wilson as individuals, VanTatenhove did dismiss the “lack of training” complaint.
VanTatenhove noted that in response to the complaint, police department officials presented the department’s training manual on the use of force. Smith did not respond, nor did he explain to the court how the officers’ training was inadequate.
“It is not the Court’s responsibility to support a claim that a party asserts but does not properly pursue,” VanTatenhove stated, adding that Smith’s claim that because he was injured the officers must be lacking in training is improper in the court’s eyes.
As to Mobley, VanTatenhove said he is immune from any claims against him in an individual capacity.
As to his official capacity, VanTatenhove noted that Mobley had no knowledge of the alleged incident after Smith was brought to the detention center until after Smith was released from custody.
In addition, VanTatenhove stated that jail personnel followed established procedure when Verna Halcomb was called to the jail to examine Smith’s ankle. Halcomb stated in her reports that she could not determine whether or not Smith’s ankle was broken.
In addition, VanTatenhove noted that Smith told jail personnel that he would go to the veterans’ administration hospital upon his release on bond. However, his release was delayed for more than 30 hours because neither his daughter nor another friend could be reached.
A second friend was eventually contacted and came to the jail to pick up Smith.
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