I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More MCSO brutality - and another lawsuit.

A reminder that October 1, 2011 is "Chalk the Police Day", all across the can bet the MCSO will be on our agenda in Phoenix.

Chalking the police:
MCSO Detention officer Kevin Gerster's assault hearing

Maricopa County Superior Court, Phoenix
March 11, 2011


Peoria man sues Sheriff's Office, cites abuse by deputies

A Peoria contractor claims in a lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office that deputies beat and shot him with a stun gun for no reason as he stood outside a concession stand at Phoenix International Raceway last year.

Michael T. Wyman, 50, maintains in his lawsuit that he greeted an old friend with a bear hug near the track's Speed Cantina during a NASCAR race last November when, without warning, a deputy put him in a choke hold. The deputy threw him to the ground, Wyman alleges, and another deputy began shooting Wyman in the leg with a stun gun.

Wyman was charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault and disorderly conduct for his role in the Nov. 13 incident, but a judge dismissed the charges in March at the request of prosecutors.

Wyman filed a notice of claim against the county in May, offering to settle the issue for $2 million. County officials did not respond, according to Wyman's attorney, so Wyman earlier this month filed a civil suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the deputies involved in the incident.

"My deputies have a tough job," Arpaio said. "At this point, these are just allegations. I will await the true outcome of this lawsuit before I make any judgments."

Wyman says he made his claim in part because he suffered injuries that left him unable to do the work required for his company, Ricochet Excavating. The company survived the recent recession, but its future is threatened because of Wyman's run-in with deputies, said Daniel Treon, Wyman's attorney.

According to the lawsuit, Wyman saw his friend Ernie Griego near the Speed Cantina about 9 p.m. during a NASCAR Nationwide Series race, and the two greeted each other with "a high five and bear hugs."

Sheriff's deputies saw the exchange differently.

A police report on the incident indicates that a deputy was "alerted to a group of white males that appeared to be intoxicated and were grabbing and pushing one another. The subjects were pushing each other into people that were not part of their group," a deputy wrote.

Deputies were trying to get the group to move, according to the report, when Wyman turned to face Deputy Preston Boyer "and swung his arms at Deputy Boyer striking him on the right side of the face," according to a deputy's report.

When Boyer was struck, another deputy shot Wyman in the back with the stun gun, according to the police report.

Wyman's attorney said the sheriff's report offers only the deputies' perspective. He said the Sheriff's Office could not produce witnesses to verify the events laid out in the police report.

"We think that was an exaggerated statement full of unsubstantiated statements by law enforcement to justify what really, by all accounts, was a bizarre, uniformed attack on Mr. Wyman," Treon said. He said a handful of witnesses acquainted with Wyman, including a firefighter and a 911 operator, could verify Wyman's claims.

Wyman said his first encounter with a deputy came when Boyer came up from behind and began to choke him.

"Surprised, disoriented and unable to see his unidentified attacker, Michael grabbed onto his assailant's arm to try to loosen the choke hold so he could breathe," the lawsuit claims. "Another unknown MCSO deputy shoved Jan (Wyman's wife) aside and tasered Michael in the back."

Wyman's lawsuit and the sheriff's report both indicate that deputies shot Wyman twice with the stun gun, but Wyman's lawsuit claims the deputies went on to stomp on his arms and kick him before handcuffing him. The lawsuit also claims that sheriff's deputies continued to shock Wyman after he was handcuffed and that deputies threatened to stun-gun a Phoenix firefighter who was a friend of Wyman's when he tried to tell the deputies to stop.

Wyman's son, Wade, tried to talk to the deputies during the altercation but was shocked with a stun gun, kneed and kicked by deputies, the lawsuit alleges.

Michael and Wade Wyman both were taken into custody, but Wade was never cited, and a deputy did not write up a report on Wade's involvement, "a clear violation of policy," according to Treon.

Michael Wyman was taken to Fourth Avenue Jail, but officers told deputies to take Wyman to Maricopa Medical Center for treatment of his injuries, according to the complaint.

Wyman continues to experience nerve damage from the stun-gun shock and has undergone surgeries, including a skin graft, to repair damage from the weapon and broken bones from a deputy stomping on Wyman's foot, Treon said. Those injuries have made it difficult for the contractor to perform his work, he said.

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