PASCO -- A series of videos showing how Pasco police removed a paraplegic Pasco man from his vehicle during a traffic stop would make the average person upset, according to the man's attorney.
Jurors will watch those video clips before they decide if Pasco police violated Fred Nunez's civil rights during a 2007 traffic stop as part of trial in U.S. District Court in Yakima that begins today.
Nunez has sued the city and four Pasco police officers, claiming the police violated his civil rights and broke his leg using excessive force while arresting him.
The lawsuit names Pasco officers Anthony Aceves, Raymond Aparicio, Patrick Baker and Chad Pettijohn.
Nunez's account of his arrest during a June 1, 2007, traffic stop differs from the city of Pasco's report.
Three videos of the incident recorded by cameras mounted on police cars will be played for the jury to see, said Pat Roach, Nunez's attorney.
"They can determine the accuracy of the police reports by verifying or not verifying that information on the videos," Roach said. "That is the beauty of this case."
Nunez was pulled over by Baker after Baker observed Nunez's sedan drive through two red lights, the city said in court documents.
Police officers say Nunez reached for items in his door panel or under his seat multiple times, according to court documents. He was known to carry weapons, according to police.
But Nunez said he made no threatening actions or gestures, according to court documents.
Police say Nunez told them his wheelchair was in the trunk, but Nunez would not open the trunk when asked multiple times and responded with "loud, multiple profanities," according to court documents
After Nunez yelled and put both hands in the front pocket of his jeans, police say Baker and two other officers grabbed Nunez's arms, waist and legs to remove him from the car, and laid him face down on the ground to handcuff him, according to court documents.
As Nunez, who continued to struggle, was lifted from the ground, his pants slipped, briefly exposing his genitals, but officers pulled the pants up, police said in court documents.
The Herald was unable to reach Kennewick attorney George Fearing, who is representing Pasco.
Nunez disputes the police account of the arrest, and he claims officers did not offer any alternate modes of transporting him from his vehicle when he told them his wheelchair was in another vehicle, according to court documents.
According to court documents filed by Nunez's attorneys, Baker is seen on video using profane language and yelling at Nunez to get out of the vehicle, and Nunez passively resists when Baker tries to pull him out "due to his reasonable fear of falling onto the asphalt."
Baker and the other officers pulled Nunez from the vehicle, pinned him to the ground and handcuffed him, court documents said. And while Nunez was being dragged to Baker's patrol car, Nunez pants dropped to his ankles, exposing his genitals.
Roach said Nunez was not transported by police as one normally would transfer a paralyzed person.
He was forcibly yanked out of his car onto the pavement by police, and as a result, broke his leg, Roach said.
"Somebody's got to be held accountable for that unlawful use of force against a disabled person," Roach said.
But the city and Baker deny in court documents that Nunez was injured during the arrest.
In a claim filed with the city in 2008, Nunez asked for about $1.3 million.
He originally sued the city and one police officer in Franklin County Superior Court in April 2009. But he voluntarily dropped that lawsuit in March before the case went to a trial.
The case then was filed in U.S. District Court, and the claim of violating Nunez's civil rights by using excessive force was added.
Nunez uses a wheelchair because he was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1995 shooting. The suspected shooter was acquitted after claiming he fired in self defense because Nunez was an alleged drug dealer known to carry a gun.
He also was one of the victims in another shooting in January 2010, when an angry husband allegedly caught his wife at Nunez's house. Nunez was shot in the leg.
Nunez has since moved away from the Tri-Cities because of fear, Roach said. That fear indirectly stems from the traffic stop incident, Roach added.
Fearing, Pasco's attorney, said in court documents the city intends to question Nunez's credibility based on his criminal convictions. Those include residential burglary in 1998, third-degree theft in 2001, third-degree escape in 2001 and 2004, and making a false/misleading statement to a public servant in 2001 and 2006, according to court documents.
Roach said that is legal maneuvering by Pasco's defense attorney.
The trial is scheduled for one week.