U.S. District Judge David Hurd recently ruled that Brad Hulett's lawsuit against two police officers, Centro (bus agency), Rural/Metro Ambulance and the city of Syracuse, New York, could go forward (video below).
Hulett, a disabled man, filed a lawsuit that says Sgt. William Galvin and Officer William Coleman used excessive force when they used a stun gun on him and pulled him off a bus in May 2013, notes Syracuse.com.
Newly-released surveillance video shows the officers demanding that the 39-year-old man get off the bus, but he refuses and repeatedly asks them why; the cops do not give him a reason.
In his ruling, Hurd wrote that the police may be liable in the eyes of a jury:
A jury could conclude that, as a result of SPD leadership's well-known permissive attitude toward compelled compliance with authority..., (the officers) knew they would not be critically investigated, much less disciplined, for using force on citizens.
Consequently, these subordinate officers felt empowered to use force with relative impunity and that, as a result, used excessive force on (Hulett).
The case will go to trial on Oct. 30, according to Hurd's ruling.
The judge also noted that Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler disciplined only three officers for misconduct in 2013 even though a Citizen Review Board had ruled misconduct on 18 cops.
According to the ruling, Fowler testified that people must obey police orders, even if the orders are unlawful.
Hurd also wrote in the ruling that the police department did not start an internal affairs investigation into Hulett's arrest until after the media began asking questions.
The officers wrote in their police reports that Hulett was told that he was under arrest while still on the bus, but Hurd ruled that the audio from inside the bus showed Hulett was not informed of his arrest until he was outside of the bus and on the ground.
The officers did not take Hulett to a hospital, but rather to the local jail.
Fowler and the lawyers for the city of Syracuse refused to comment.
According to Hulett's lawsuit, police falsified their reports and destroyed other video evidence of the incident.
Medical records from Upstate Medical University show that Hulett's left hip was broken during the incident, and that doctors had to insert three pins in his hip.
Syracuse.com reported in August 2013 that Onondaga County prosecutors agreed to drop charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct against Hulett.