Newaygo County, Mich. — Officials in Newaygo County are finally commenting on a video sent exclusively to FOX 17 in late October, showing a jail inmate being tased while he’s on his knees at the hands of a corrections officer.
The inmate on the video is Victor Lamont Garcia. He filed a civil lawsuit against Newaygo County, The Sheriff’s Department and four corrections officers, saying it was a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
Now the county is stepping forward, saying officially in a statement that its officers thought Garcia “was in possession of a razor blade” prior to hitting him with the stun gun.
Video from late October, 2012, shows Garcia being tased on his knees in what looks like a compliant position before he’s shocked and falls to the floor.
Kay Perry, the executive director of the prisoner rights group, MI-CURE, said it looked like the officers used the taser unnecessarily.
“Kind of makes you sick to your stomach, doesn`t it?’ she said. ‘If you can`t train the personnel to use it correctly, only when it`s essential, only if someone`s going to get hurt, there`s no justification for having tasers in the system.”
The lawsuit claims Garcia’s eighth amendment rights were violated and he said he suffered emotional and physical damages including a broken nose.
Now, more than two weeks after FOX 17 aired the video, administrators with the county broke their silence by releasing a statement.
It says,”Corrections officers from Newaygo County Jail believed that inmate Victor Garcia was in possession of a razorblade. He became hostile and agitated when questioned. In an effort to further investigate the whereabouts of the razorblade, Mr. Garcia was ordered to go to his cell, and he initially refused. He told a corrections officer that he was going to fight the officer if the officer came into his cell.”
It states that officers, “knew Mr. Garcia to be a very good fighter, as he had been in numerous jail fights with other inmates.”
They allege that Garcia refused to get on his stomach and then stated, “for obvious safety purposes, the Taser was used.”
They also claimed that he was not injured.
Perry was not so sure when we interviewed her previously.
She said it looked like a brutal fall to the floor and said that even if they thought he had a razor, his hands were clearly behind his back where they would have seen a weapon.
“I think they used the taser because they wanted to use the taser,” said Perry.
In the court documents available in the case, there was no mention that a razor was actually found on Garcia or in his cell following the tasing incident.