Lawsuit: Cops Unlawfully Entered Home, Tasered Man In Front Of Children
PRAIRIE GROVE (KFSM) – A Prairie Grove family is suing the city after calling 911 on officers they say unlawfully entered their home and shocked a man inside with a Taser in front of his children.
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 30 in U.S. District Court of Western Arkansas by Pendarvis and Joy Williams, two Prairie Grove residents who say Officer Travis Stills and Office Stephanie Baugher broke the law while entering their house without permission and forcefully subduing Pendarvis Williams with a Taser.
(Viewers can watch a police video of the incident above.)
The federal complaint states on or around Jan. 30, 2014, the officers responded to the plaintiffs’ home on Col. Salomon Drive in Prairie Grove in reference to a welfare concern call from a neighbor. The officers knocked on the home’s door and asked for Joy Williams.
According to the complaint, Pendarvis Williams answered the door and told Stills and Baugher that Joy Williams was home, but she was not feeling well. The officers asked to actually see Joy Williams. Pendarvis Williams disappeared and came back to the front door, explaining again Joy Williams said she was not feeling well, the federal complaint states.
The officers asked again to see the woman and asked to come in, to which the husband responded, “O.K. Hold on,” the lawsuit states. The officers then entered the home and went to the couple’s bedroom doorway, according to the lawsuit.
Joy Williams told the officers she did not want to come out because she was not feeling well. She and her husband also told the officers the woman did not have a protection order filed against Pendarvis Williams, in response to a question asked by the officers, the lawsuit states.
The suit states the family became agitated that the officers would not leave. Pendarvis Williams said he was going to call his attorney, and his wife called 911 to report the officers.
A citation report filed with Prairie Grove District Court states Williams would not clarify his name to officers when asked. He then yelled, “I’m not going to jail for domestic violence,” according to the report.
While police questioned Williams on a couch, Williams became agitated, got up and went quickly into a bedroom. The report states the officers did not know Williams’ intentions and were concerned for everyone’s safety. Stills tried to follow Williams into the bedroom, but was blocked by Williams’ wife.
The officer ordered Williams three times to exit the room, then pushed his way past Williams’ wife and told Williams to turn around and put his hands behind his back, the report states. When Stills reached for Williams’ arm, the suspect pulled away and said, “Don’t touch me or else, man,” according to the report.
After Williams did not comply with further commands, Stills forced the suspect up against a wall and shocked him with a Taser repeatedly, according to the citation report. The lawsuit states one of the man’s children tried to intervene at this time, and Williams’ wife was screaming for officers to stop.
The citation report states Williams continued to resist arrest and continued to get shocked with a Taser. During this time, Joy Williams was on the phone with 911 telling them the officers had no legal right to enter or stay in the home, and that they had shocked her husband with a Taser for no reason, according to the lawsuit.
The officers placed Pendarvis Williams in a patrol car, cited him on suspicion of misdemeanor resisting arrest and second-degree assault and released him, according to the lawsuit.
The officers shortly afterward heard back from dispatch that a protection order between the Williams had expired in November 2013.
“Officer Stills explained to Mr. Williams that if he would have remained calm, we could have checked and found that the Order of Protection was expired,” Baugher states in her explanation of events. “Mr. Williams stated that he should have listened.
The Williams family contend several of their constitutional rights were violated during the incident. Their lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, along with medical expenses and court costs.
Summons were issued Jan. 30 for Stills, Baugher and Carl Dorman, the then-Prairie Grove chief of police, according to court records.
Prairie Grove Police Chief Chris Workman declined to comment on Tuesday (Feb. 3), saying the city attorney had not seen the lawsuit. The two officers are still with the department and have not been suspended or placed on leave, the chief said.