Home / PINAC News / Virginia Judge Denies Qualified Immunity to Deputy Caught on Video Attacking Citizen

Virginia Judge Denies Qualified Immunity to Deputy Caught on Video Attacking Citizen

 

In a typical display of law enforcement aggression and fabrication, a Virginia sheriff’s deputy came charging up behind an unsuspecting citizen who had his hands in the air, ramming his elbow into the back of his head and sending him sprawling to the pavement, rendering him unconscious, only to later claim that the man was about to attack another deputy.

The citizen, Carlos Garcia, who said he was left with permanent brain damage, was charged with assaulting an officer and ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

The Loudoun County sheriff’s deputy, Terry Daniel, probably didn’t think much of the incident after filing his report in November 2009, even receiving a promotion to “training officer” the following year.

But then Garcia’s attorney obtained the dash cam video from Daniel’s car that night, posting it on Youtube in 2011 and using it as the basis for a lawsuit against the deputy.

Daniel, who quickly resigned and was hired by a police department in Alabama, didn’t waste any time in demanding qualified immunity against the suit, obviously believing he was above the law.

Last week, a Virginia judged denied Daniel’s motion for summary judgement, allowing Garcia to proceed with his lawsuit.

According to Courthouse News:

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After reviewing the video footage from Daniel’s patrol car, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady refused to grant his motion for summary judgment.

“Defendant’s actions were unreasonable given the circumstances at the scene, as he knew them to be. Mr. Garcia was not engaged in any criminal activity at the time. While two members of his party were scuffling with deputies, Mr. Garcia appeared to be calmly standing in front of an officer and his K-9 with his hands raised in a submissive position. Defendant claims that Mr. Garcia posed an immediate threat to the safety of officers at the scene, but that claim is without merit,” the judge said.

In addition, a third officer at the scene testified that he saw no need for aggressive action against Garcia, and would have only verbally directed Garcia to the ground.

O’Grady continued: “Law enforcement officers play a critical role protecting all member of a community and may be afforded qualified immunity in order to protect themselves from lawsuits brought against an officer acting reasonably. … Had Defendant conducted himself in the manner of a reasonable officer, he could have more appropriately matched the level of force used with the level of threat presented.”

 

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About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.