On June 28, officers say they responded to a man with a bat going after a group of people, according to an account from the police on Lancaster.crimewatchpa.com. Sean Williams, 27, was confronted by officers who told him to sit on a curb. However, PhillyVoice.com reports no bat was found, and a group of witnesses said Williams didn’t have one in his possession.
Williams sat down and Officer Philip Bernot told him to stretch his legs out. He put his legs out, then pulled them back—which made the officer feel it was okay to violently tase the 27-year-old.
PhillyVoice.com also reported, “Williams was arrested on an outstanding warrant for possession of a controlled substance and public drunkenness. Police said he was checked by emergency medical staff because of the use of the Taser. He was taken in for arraignment and released on $5,000 unsecured bail.”
The video of the tasing quickly went viral, which prompted Mayor Danene Sorace to release a statement which said, “There is an investigation that has already commenced regarding the use of force in this incident, and we are in communication with other civil rights groups and other individuals to address the concerns. We’ll be continuing the investigation over the coming days.”
Now, Williams is fighting back. ABC News reports, “Attorneys for Sean Williams, 27, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Lancaster Police Department and the officer who fired the Taser, Phillip Bernot, seeking more than $75,000. The lawsuit also claims Williams was racially profiled by police when he was shot with a Taser gun on June 28. According to the lawsuit, Williams ‘has suffered and continues to suffer severe head, neck, shoulder and head pain,” as well as “crippling anxiety’ and ‘substantial shame, embarrassment, mental and physical suffering’ as a result of the June 28 incident.” The lawsuit also claims that when he was moving his legs in and out, he was following instructions from the officers.
Lancaster Police have not respond to the lawsuit, but hopefully Williams wins big—it would prove there is a cost for using excessive force.