A Los Altos Hills man is charging that Palo Alto police officers used excessive force and violated his civil rights in connection with an Aug. 3, 2013, traffic stop in which he was allegedly pushed against a squad car and had his arm broken by officers.
In a lawsuit against Palo Alto and Santa Clara County law enforcement officials filed Monday, July 28, in U.S. District Court, Tyler Harney, who was a passenger in the car that was stopped, recounted his version of events.
The lawsuit alleges that at least two police officers pushed Harney face forward against a squad car, "apparently as a prelude to handcuffing him and arresting him," and he began convulsing uncontrollably as a result of a seizure disorder. The officers then forced him to the ground, face first, and one put his knee on Harney's back and neck, the lawsuit alleges. One officer pulled on his arm and twisted it back, saying, "Stop, or I'm going to break your arm," or "words to that effect," according to the lawsuit. The officer then did break Harney's arm, the lawsuit reads.
Harney said he was taken and kept in shackles at Stanford University Hospital, where doctors operated on his injured arm and damaged shoulder.
Harney said he was taken on Aug. 7 to Santa Clara County Jail, where sheriff's officers "exhibited deliberate indifference" to his medical needs before releasing him on Aug. 8.
Harney's earlier claims for compensation were rejected by the City of Palo Alto in February and by Santa Clara County in January.
His federal lawsuit seeks damages for his injuries, which he said required three surgeries, as well as pain, suffering, emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, medical expenses, loss of income and deprivation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
According to the lawsuit, the officers "wrongfully and without justification" cited Harney for battery on a police officer and resisting or obstructing a police officer. The lawsuit says that Harney acted "peacefully and lawfully" and never threatened or interfered with the officers.
Claudia Keith, chief communications officer in the Palo Alto City Manager's Office, said the city has not yet been served with the lawsuit.