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Man Sues Police Department After Video of His Tasing Goes Viral

Sean Williams is suing the Lancaster Police Department after he says a tasing violated the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

A Pennsylvania man is suing the Lancaster Police Department and one of its officers after a video of him being tased from behind went viral. As Reason previously reported, Officer Philip Bernot instructed a seated Sean Williams to put his legs "straight out," which he did. Bernot then told Williams to cross his ankles. When Williams tried to, Bernot shocked him with an Electronic Control Device (ECD).

Williams' lawsuit, which seeks $75,000, alleges that Bernot told Williams to keep his legs "straight out or you're getting tased." It then states that Bernot tased Williams even though he complied "without resistance."

The Lancaster Police Department is also accused of violating Williams' civil rights by using excessive force and discriminating against Williams because of his race. The lawsuit claims the nature of the tasing was a violation of Williams' Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The lawsuit also cites Lancaster County arrest statistics to establish "a history and pattern of intentionally discriminating against African Americans and other minorities."

According to a police report, the incident began when someone called about a disturbance involving Williams. The caller accused Williams of going after them on the street. The first officer to respond to the call instructed Williams to sit down "several times" as Williams demanded his Social Security card from one of the females in the group.

Bernot eventually took over. The subsequent events were captured on video by a bystander and posted on Facebook.

Following the initial incident, the Lancaster District Attorney tweeted that an investigation by the police department was underway. The office later announced that it was involved with the investigation "in a limited capacity" and would discuss the findings with the public.

Photo Credit: Screenshot via Facebook/Jay Jay

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  • Hugh Akston||

    Once again Reason undermines the case for self defense by casting aspersions on cops who clearly feared for their lives while tasing an unarmed dude sitting on the sidewalk.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The office later announced that it was involved with the investigation "in a limited capacity" and would discuss the findings with the public.

    [voice trails off...]

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    "", alleges that Bernot told Williams to keep his legs "straight out or you're getting tased." It then states that Bernot tased Williams even though he complied "without resistance."""

    Having watched the video. Williams crossed his legs and did not keep them straight. Simon did not say to cross your legs.

    Seems like a perverse game of Simon Says where Simon shocks you.

  • Citizen X||

    Who says cops have no sense of humor?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He probably was off balance and did it without thinking to keep from falling over.

  • Longtobefree||

    SO - - - - - - - -
    Taxpayers lose, lawyers win.
    And the cops keep on as usual.

    Nothing to see here; move along, move along

  • KWlib||

    A measly $75k? C'mon man, you can do better than that.

  • Crazy mick||

    Yeah but the real outrage is pro athletes not standing up for the anthem.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    Crazy Dick says, "Yeah but the real outrage is pro athletes not standing up for the anthem"...because they think they do not need to conform to the same free speech restraints that any other employee would have to and thereby forcing their customers to endure their protests against the best interests of their employers and even themselves. FTFY

    How many of those players took a knee outside the Lancaster Police Department as a show of solidarity and commitment to the struggle on their own fucking time and dime? The players could sign some pig socks and give the proceeds to the victim here.

    TDS is no joke and those afflicted cannot tell any funny ones. Know the symptoms.
    https://www.urbandictionary.com /define.php?term=Trump Derangement Syndrome

    The man deserves compensation lest anyone misunderstand my sympathies.

  • Happy Chandler||

    They enjoy the same rights as any employee with a collectively bargained contract that specifically spells out the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, with a process for arbitrating disputes with management.

  • spec24||

    There contracts guarantees them the right to protest the anthem pre-game? I'd love to see that fucking contract. Gee... you'd think if that was ACTUALLY the case we'd see some lawsuits for breach of contract after they made it clear it would no longer be tolerated. Must be because THEY NEVER HAD THAT RIGHT!

    Good luck protesting while on your job. Give me a break.

  • Crazy mick||

    Whoa there cowboy. I happen to think anthem protests are counterproductive but they have the rights accorded to them in their negotiated contracts it isn't a big deal to me either way. But cops beating or killing people for no legitimate reason is a much bigger deal unless you suffer from Trump worshipping syndrome

  • spec24||

    No one was beat or killed here, clueless wonder.

  • Mindscape||

    They told him to put his legs out SIX times. Once he had them kind of out, they told him to cross them. He then pulled them back in and didn't cross them. Cops ask suspects to put their legs out and cross them because it makes them less of a risk to take off running. He clearly heard their orders and ignored them. He was either planning to run or was just being a obstinate dickhead. Either way, enjoy the volts.

  • Crazy mick||

    Why are you on a libertarian site when you're clearly an authoritarian? They told him to jump for no reason and he didn't say "how high?" Therefore they can do what they want? Sound logic

  • spec24||

    Being a libertarian doesn't mean dropping your brain off at the front door as you clearly have. Yes, police are a tool of the state, so are the roads and the schools if you want to keep going on about it. That doesn't mean you can simply ignore those things and pretend they don't exist or just say "Well, dur, because them there's the tools of that thar state thing I don't have to follow any gawd don rules, duh."

    This wasn't a policeman overstepping his boundaries. This wasn't a policeman abusing his powers. The officer wanted the suspect to follow clear orders. The guy was too stupid to follow said orders. What SHOULD the cop have done? "Legs straight out or I'm gonna get really mad"? Yeah, I don't think people would be inclined to follow said orders. Would you have preferred the cop warned him to put his legs straight out or he'd shoot him? Or maybe a billy club upside the head?! I guess guys like you would just suggest if the suspect doesn't comply the cop should just drive away?!?!?!?! Maybe approach the suspect and pull his legs out for him. That's safe.

    You don't have the brain power to think this through. Your answer is "authoritarian" and you walk away. You're as mindless and ignorant as any statist. Logic indeed. The officer didn't say jump for no reason, you dolt. He told him to put his legs out for a reason. Or are you going to try and claim that any order an officer gives a suspect is "for no reason"?

  • Randy Marsh||

    Nah, dude. You're an authoritarian. The video is pretty clear.

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    Isn't someone going to arrest whoever shot the video?

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Why did this "unidentified female" have Williams' Social Security card?
    Sounds like there's a whole lot of "back story" here that is yet to come out.

  • ||

    I do not know honestly. The cop seems retarded. But arrest statistics are not a discrimination proof. Different groups of people do crime at different rates. Only idiots believe otherwise.

  • Crazy mick||

    Is there a point in your rambling that applies to a cop tasing a guy for no reason? If so please explain

  • spec24||

    Crazy mick to throw out some more idiotic fallacies. "Dur, I don't think there's a good reason so there's no good reason." Again, Lazy mick, what do you suggest? Perhaps you could start there instead of just repeating the same thing like an insufferable bore.

    The cop could perhaps offer the suspect some money to put his legs out. "Hey buddy, put your legs straight out and I'll give you a $20."

    Maybe the officer could threaten to tell his mommy. Or call him poopy-pants.

    Failing all of those great ideas, what should the officer do to get a suspect to comply in genius Crazy mick's world?

    Let's see... he did inform him that he would taze him if he did not comply. But I guess that falls under the idiot's definition of "no reason." You may disagree with cops threatening people if they don't comply, mick, but I would love to know how you think police would ever enforce the law in such a world.

  • K-Von||

    How's he going to sue? He was non-compliant to the clear instructions.
    He wasn't hurt. The officer released the taze almost immediately.
    I think the officer did the right thing.
    There was no physical exchange of blows, therefore he was not able to wrestle his gun away and do harm.
    He just got a mild taze for being a non-compliant jerk.
    Lesson here: Do what the officer tells you to do.

  • gphx||

    Step right into the train car. We're just going to a happy farm.

  • gphx||

    Update: 'We have investigated ourselves and found ourselves innocent'

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