Lawsuit filed against former N. Charleston police officer charged with murder

VIDEO: Lawsuit filed against former N. Charleston police officer charged with murder
Published: Aug. 19, 2015 at 7:06 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2015 at 10:00 PM EDT
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A new lawsuit filed against former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager, North Charleston Police Officer Maurice Huggins, the North Charleston Police Department and the City of North Charleston claims that Slager wrongly tasered a man to the groin while looking for a burglary suspect in September of 2013.

The lawsuit comes while Michael Slager awaits trial in the April, 2015 murder of Walter Scott, who was shot as he was fleeing from his vehicle during a traffic stop on Remount Road in North Charleston.

Plaintiffs Mario Givens, Yolanda Whitaker and attorney Eduardo K. Curry filed the suit on August 18.

The lawsuit says Mario Givens woke up to beating on his door on September 15, 2013, and went to see who it was. He opened the door to Officer Slager, who grabbed him by the arm and ordered him to step outside.

The suit says Slager did not identify himself.

It says Slager asked Givens for his name without giving him a reason for wanting to talk.

The suit says Givens repeatedly told Slager what his name was, but was ignored as Slager tried to drag him outside of his home.

The suit says an alleged victim of a burglary escorted officers Slager and Huggins to Givens' house so that she could identify a suspect. It said the victim never identified Givens as the suspect.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged victim of a burglary repeatedly told Slager that Givens was not the suspect. She had given Slager a description of the suspect prior to the incident. The suspect was described as 5'5" to 5'6" and brown-skinned.

It states that Yolanda Whitaker, another plaintiff in the case, was observing the entire incident. It says she heard the alleged victim tell the officers that Givens was not the suspect and that "they had the wrong man."

It says Slager signaled for Officer Huggins to help in removing the man from his home and told Givens to "come out or else."

Givens stepped outside of the house and put his hands in the air in compliance with Slager's request, the lawsuit says.

The suit says Givens was forced from his home despite his compliance.

It says Slager then slammed Givens to the ground and tasered Givens multiple times "without cause or justification." According to the lawsuit, Slager tasered Givens once to his groin area and then proceeded to dry-stun him in the same area.

The suit says after tasing Givens, Slager sat on Givens' back, "twisted his arm and roughed him up." Givens was injured as a result of Slager's use of a taser and physical force, the lawsuit states.

It says Givens was not offered any medical attention, despite being in "tremendous and excruciating pain."

Givens was handcuffed, searched and placed in a police cruiser while in pain for about an hour while officers conducted an investigation to determine whether Givens was the suspect in the alleged burglary.

The lawsuit goes on to say that Whitaker suffered emotional distress from witnessing Givens' encounter with the officer and seeing him in pain.

It says Slager spoke with the alleged victim of the burglary, who confirmed that Givens was not the suspect, and then released him.

The lawsuit says Givens filed an Administrative Internal Investigation Complaint with the North Charleston Police Department, also a defendant in the case. The department responded to Givens on September 17, saying they would investigate the situation respond to Givens with their findings within 30 days.

The alleged victim of a burglary filed her own complaint with the North Charleston Police Department on September 18.

The lawsuit says North Charleston Police reported its findings to Givens on October 7, 2013, saying no departmental rules were violated in the incident.

It says Givens did not believe that the police department conducted a "truthful and meaningful investigation" into his complaint. The Plaintiffs believe the police department was negligent in its investigation.

The plaintiffs believe Slager had "a history of use of force while in the field." The lawsuit says Slager displayed use of force on eight known occasions before using force on Givens.

The lawsuit goes on to say that the police department, along with the city of North Charleston, "failed to properly hire, train, instruct, monitor, supervise, evaluate, investigate, and discipline officers...for their acts and/or omissions that violated the rights, safety, well-being and reputation of plaintiffs."

Givens held a press conference to say that he was considering filing the lawsuit shortly after the shooting of Walter Scott.

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