The Pocatello Police Department, Police Chief James "J.R." Miller and the city of Pocatello may all be in court soon. All three are being sued by Pocatello resident Cody Witt, who said two officers used excessive force when they shot him with a Taser after pulling him over on February 20.
Attorney Richard Hearn said his client, Witt, was driving back from his girlfriend's house that night when he was pulled over by two Pocatello police officers. When Witt got out of his car, an officer grabbed him, so Witt took off running, Hearn said. The officers yelled to him that if he did not stop he would be "tased," Hearn said.
Witt then turned around and went to surrender to the officers, but one fired his Taser at Witt anyway, Hearn said. Witt fell to the ground and smacked his head against a concrete driveway, Hearn said. When Witt was down, one of the officers hit him in the head, Hearn said. Witt then had to be transported by Life Flight to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Hearn said.
"(He suffered) a skull fracture and so he had bleeding coming out of his ear and out of his nose. ... And probably one of the worst things he had was hearing loss, because the fracture went very close to one of his ears," Hearn, who is also a medical doctor, said.
So, Witt and Hearn want the city to pay for his medical bills because, Hearn said, there is no reason Witt should have be shot with the Taser once he turned around to comply with police. There is legal precedence for how much force officers should use in specific situations, Hearn said.
"We allege that any reasonable police officer would have known under these circumstances that the use of the TASER was inappropriate," he said.
Hearn believes the shot violated Witt's constitutional rights.
Chief Miller refused to comment and referred Local News 8 to Pocatello's legal department. Kirk Bybee, the attorney on the case, was on vacation and could not be reached. The legal department receptionist said no one else was qualified to speak on the subject.
Witt was charged with being in possession of 17 methadone pills and marijuana on that night and was sentenced to probation.
Hearn said he will formally file the lawsuit within the next week.