Man says police used excessive force in Tasing him in front of his family at birthday party

February 6, 2013 4:22:55 PM PST
Things got out of hand quickly at a house party in Magnolia a couple months ago when an officer shocked a man with a Taser. It was all caught on a dashboard camera and now the man who was shocked has hired a lawyer.

The man says he believes police used excessive force, Tasing him in front of his family. Police say the man threatened them with a beer bottle and didn't obey their commands.

"Get on the ground now! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!" a Magnolia police officer could be heard saying before Tasing the man.

That man, who can be heard on the video grunting in pain, is Rodrigo Cortes-Rodriguez. He says Magnolia police officers went too far hitting him with a Taser at his birthday party back in November. Eyewitness News just obtained a copy of video from the officer's patrol car

Woman: He wasn't even doing anything.
Officer: He wasn't doing as instructed. That's all that matters.

Cortes-Rodriguez's lawyer, Rick DeToto, told us, "Irrespective of what's said, I don't think that this officer has a right to Taser him in the back like he did."

Cortes-Rodriguez and his lawyer are now questioning the officers' use of excessive force training. Initially the police were responding to a noise complaint that night.

Officer: Walk.
Suspect: Why?
Officer: Walk!
Suspect: Why? I said Why?!
Officer: Walk!
Suspect: Why?
Officer: Walk! Now!

The officers say that argument occurred after Cortes-Rodriguez approached them with a beer bottle and ignored numerous orders to back down.

"Whether or not he obeyed those commands, the proper procedure at that point would have been to subdue him. There's two police officers there, OK. He is not a threat to them in any form or fashion, doesn't have a knife, doesn't have a weapon, has not tried to hit them," DeToto said.

Magnolia Police Chief Domingo Ibarra said, "If a police officer in full uniform is directing somebody to do something, and they don't do it, then there is that force continuum."

Chief Ibarra says he can't go into detail about specifics in this incident due to an ongoing investigation. But he did talk to us about the departments use of force protocol.

"Whenever a police officer goes on the scene, first he tries to obtain compliance; this starts with command presence. Then it escalates to verbal commands and ultimately if the officer does have to use any type of a device, like in this case a Taser, that's something that is available to him," said the chief.
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