Texans lineman Fred Weary sues city of Houston for Taser incident
(11/13/07 - HOUSTON) -- Houston Texans offensive lineman Fred Weary on Tuesday sued the city and two police officers for an arrest in which he was shot with a Taser gun during a traffic stop.
In his lawsuit, filed in federal court, Weary is accusing the city and officers Margaret McGivern and Joe Vasquez of violating his civil rights through excessive force, assault, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
A misdemeanor charge against Weary of resisting arrest in the November 2006 incident was dismissed because of insufficient evidence.
Weary, who is black, is also accusing the officers of racial profiling and the city of defamation.
The officers "clearly used race as a factor for reasonable suspicion and making a traffic stop of Mr. Weary," Joseph Walker, Weary's attorney, said in the 14-page lawsuit.
"I have to put closure on this situation, and this is my first step to closure," Weary told a Houston television station. "I feel my rights have been violated that day last year. I have had to deal with that for this whole entire year."
The Houston Police Department referred calls about the lawsuit to Houston City Attorney Arturo Michel, who did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The two officers said they stopped Weary because he didn't have a front license plate and was driving "suspiciously."
According to the police report, the 6-foot-4, 308-pound Weary became angry and uncooperative after being stopped in an area near Reliant Stadium, where authorities were on alert because of criminal activity. Weary has just completed team practice when he was stopped.
Police said Weary was shot with a Taser after he pushed one of the officers away and then tried to come toward them after being told to put his hands on his vehicle.
Weary denied any wrongdoing.
Walker said Tuesday that Weary would not have filed the lawsuit if he had received letters of apology from Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt.
He had also asked for monetary compensation, which would have been donated to a police charity, and that the city review its policies regarding racial profiling and the use of Tasers.
"He never got his letter of apology or a concrete review of tasering," Walker said. "He asked for a copy of (taser) policies and they sent him a policy that was completely blacked out, censored."
Walker said the city's policy on Taser use needs to be re-examined because some reviews done by local media and advocacy groups show that in more than 350 of the first 900 police Taser incidents, no person was charged.
Weary's taser incident renewed controversy over the stun guns' use, prompting White to call for a study of how officers have used the devices. The study, being conducted by the University of Houston Center for Public Policy, is set to be done by January.
Weary, who has spent his entire six-year career with the Texans, is asking for unspecified damages. He plans to donate a significant amount of any proceeds to charity, Walker said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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