The Atwater Police Department faces a $5 million lawsuit by a man who claims he was physically abused and falsely arrested last year.
But the man doesn't yet have a lawyer.
On Sept. 23, 2009, officers William Richards and Dick Wisdom responded to plaintiff Billy Moore's mother's house, according to a complaint filed by Moore. He and his brother were trying to help their mother with her possible mental health issues and got into an argument when she called the police.
While Moore, 49, and his brother were attempting to contact mental health services, Richards and Wisdom arrived at the house, Moore said.
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Moore's mother called the police, but became concerned when she saw how her son was being treated, Moore said.
After refusing to stand up when asked, Moore claims Richards slapped a cell phone out of his hands before both officers threw him to the ground and handcuffed him.
"At that point, I was in an almost unconscious state and they handcuffed me while they were yelling, 'quit resisting arrest,'" his complaint reads. "I told them that I wasn't."
After being cuffed and complaining of an injury to his head, Moore said he was put into a patrol car with the windows rolled up and no ventilation for 10 to 15 minutes.
"I tried to get out of the patrol car to get emergency care from a neighbor," he said. "At that point, I attempted to kick out the back rear window."
Moore also claims he was grabbed by the throat, choked and pushed against a cell wall by Wisdom.
The incident wasn't the first time Moore has had a negative encounter with Richards, Moore said. "When officer Richards took me from my Mom's house to the Atwater Police Department, I asked why he beat me up," he said. "He said things that my nephew did to my mother."
Moore's lawsuit includes allegations of false arrest, false imprisonment, police brutality, intentional infliction of emotional distress, pain and suffering, and financial loss.
An injured shoulder, head and wrist are all injuries Moore will try to prove in court, he said. Moore doesn't have a lawyer yet, but plans on looking for representation.
After the 2009 confrontation, he was arrested on suspicion of trespassing, resisting arrest and vandalism for damaging the back window of a police cruiser, said Chief Richard Hawthorne of the Atwater Police Department.
Atwater City Attorney Dennis Myers declined to comment on the case since he doesn't know the details.
Hawthorne doesn't know much about the lawsuit either.
"We haven't been served with anything," he said.
The first court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 8, 2011.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.