Is use of force needed for uncooperative DWI suspects?

May 14, 2010 3:39:08 PM PDT
A man claiming to be deathly afraid of needles found out the hard way what could happen when you refuse a blood draw during a "no refusal" drunk driving crackdown. 13 Undercover's Wayne Dolcefino first showed you the exclusive video Thursday night on Eyewitness News at 10pm. Now for the first time, we're hearing from the man who says officers went way too far when trying to collect blood evidence during a DWI investigation.

Curtis Nelson was arrested on suspicion of DWI on July 4. He was taken to the Pasadena jail where he refused to take a breath test. When officers informed him they'd obtained a warrant to draw his blood, he tried to bargain with them as man claiming to be deathly afraid of needles.

"I'm not trying to resist or anything. What happened to the sobriety test? Can I please take one here? I got a camera. I got a lot of witnesses. Can we please do something beside draw blood from me?" Nelson is heard pleading in the video.

When police tried to sit him in a chair, things got out of control quickly.

"I don't want to sit down," said Nelson in the video.

It appears that at least one officer punches Nelson several times.

"I remember distinctly someone's knee being on my neck and someone was punching me in my face. and they were yelling give me your hands, give me your hands, and they already had my hands," Nelson told Eyewitness News this week.

He went on to say, "The whole time I'm yelling, they're beating me the whole time. They're not actually drawing my blood. Once I stopped yelling, that's when the beating stopped," said Nelson.

Sam Cammack is one of Nelson's attorneys.

"I agree with everyone else that this was horrific," said Cammack.

He is helping Nelson file suit in federal court.

"I think we ought to stick with the fourth amendment that protects our constitutional rights against unlawful searches and seizures," said Cammack.

"That video looks bad. It sounds bad," said Constable Victor Trevino of Precinct 6.

Trevino says despite claims to the contrary, nobody from his office was involved, and while he doesn't like the look of what happens in the video, he also knows getting alleged drunk drivers off the streets is a difficult task.

"What force are we going to use to take blood from someone? That needs to be clear. And I think we as a police department need to come up with policies," Trevino said. "At least I will."

As for Nelson, he still can't believe what he says happened to him.

"I just hope that no other citizen has to go through what I went through when they're being arrested or detained," he said.

Additionally, the Pasadena Police Department confirms it is conducting an internal investigation into the incident, which happened at the city's jail.


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