Excessive force suit filed against 3 NCPD officers in August arrest

Excessive force suit filed against 3 NCPD officers in August arrest

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A man arrested in August is suing former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager and two other officers for excessive force and reckless indifference as well as gross negligence, according to court documents.

The civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of Julius Wilson, who was charged with resisting arrest and driving under suspension.

The suit names Slager and then-fellow officers Brad Woods and Jerome Clemens, as well as the North Charleston Police Department and Chief Eddie Driggers as defendants.

According to the suit, Wilson was on his way to work early on the morning of Aug. 25 when he was pulled over by Officer Woods on Dorchester Road. The suit states Wilson handed Woods his Georgia driver's license and that Woods returned to his patrol car and called additional officers to the scene because of Wilson's "demeanor."

Ten minutes later, Woods returned to Wilson's car accompanied by Slager and Clemens, who placed Wilson under arrest for the charge of driving under a suspended South Carolina license, the suit states.

Court documents accuse the three officers of forcibly pulling Wilson out of his vehicle then forcibly restraining him on his stomach face down on the pavement. The suit alleges Wilson had his hands above his head, palms facing down against the pavement, not moving or resisting the officers, but that as the other two officers were attempting to place Wilson's hands behind his back, Slager said, "Watch out! I'm going to tase!" and then shot Wilson in the back with the weapon.

The suit states because of the electric shock, "Wilson writhed in pain from the electric shock" in an involuntary reaction, at which point Slager threatened to shock him a second time.

Wilson was then escorted to Woods' police cruiser and charge with driving under suspension, a charge that was later dropped, documents state.

Wilson was injured from the use of the Taser and offered medical attention by ambulance, but Wilson declined it because he feared getting out of the car because of Slager's continued threats, the suit alleges.

The suit states Woods' dash cam video shows Wilson had a "normal demeanor" at the time of the traffic stop and "was making small talk and laughing at the time he was questioned."

The suit cites a previous complaint filed against Slager in a 2013 Taser incident against Mario Givens, and suggests North Charleston authorities did nothing to further investigate, punish or correct "such improper behavior."

"This 'looking the other way' by the 'powers that be' within the NCPD and the City fostered an environment where improper and unconsistitional conduct was condoned, tolerated and/or emboldened by Defendant Driggers and other policymaking authorities within the NCPD and the City," documents state.

The suit also alleges a failure by North Charleston Police to train officers in a "standard operating procedure" or on the use of excessive force and search and seizure of presumed-innocent citizens.

The suit seeks actual, consequential and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury for Wilson's pain and suffering, shock, humiliation, shame, embarrassment and anxiety, past medical bills, past lost wages and future damages, the documents state.

Slager is facing a murder charge in the Saturday shooting death of Walter Scott during a traffic stop in North Charleston. Mario Givens told reporters Thursday he believes North Charleston Police did not take his complaint against Slager seriously in the incident.

"If they had even tried to listen to me and really investigated, that man would probably have been alive because he wouldn't have been an officer in the field," Givens said.

Givens claimed Slager tased him for no reason. Slager was later cleared in that complaint.

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