Cops Who 'Tasered' Man Accused of Excessive Force in the Past

Police defend use of force at seat-belt traffic stop.

— -- Both of the Hammond, Indiana, police officers videotaped during a recent traffic stop that led to their breaking a car window and firing a stun gun at a passenger have been accused of using excessive force in the past, according to court documents.

In the most recent dispute, Lt. Patrick Vicari smashed the side window and Sgt. Charles Turner used the stun gun on Jamal Jones, the man riding in the front passenger seat, last month after, police said, Jones repeatedly refused to write his name down on a piece of paper and hand it to the officers. When he reached toward the back of the vehicle -- which, according to a lawsuit he filed this week, he did to retrieve a ticket that proved his identity -- he "was Tasered," the police report states.

Jones Monday sued Vicari, Turner, the City of Hammond and any other officers who were involved in the incident.

Vicari has been involved in three prior cases and Turner in a separate one in which they were accused of using excessive force, among other accusations. Each of the cases was settled before trial without either of the officers admitting wrongdoing, according to court records.

"Why is it that he's still there?" said Yolanda Gray, who alleges in one of the three cases that Vicari tackled her to the ground in 2006 while looking for suspected criminals in her neighborhood. "Why is it that he has been promoted? Why is it that this is still going on?"

Police had surrounded Gray and her family's car and drew weapons because they were searching for suspects involved in a crime unrelated to the Grays, she told ABC News. When they were stopped by police, Gray and her family were just 200 yards from their home.

Last month's incident was filmed by the driver's 14-year-old son, who was sitting in the backseat. The video, which is just over three minutes long, shows Jones screaming as he is apparently struck by a stun gun. The fourth passenger in the car, the driver's 7-year-old daughter, can be heard crying in the backseat.

The police report states that officers stopped the vehicle after they noticed that neither the female driver, later identified as Jones' girlfriend, Lisa Mahone, nor Jones was wearing a seat belt.

Mahone told officers they were en route to a nearby hospital because she had been told that her sick mother was "possibly on her deathbed," the police report states.

When the officers approached the vehicle, according to the police report, Mahone showed her ID and car insurance but Jones didn't have any identification and allegedly refused repeatedly to write his name on a piece of paper. That contradicts the lawsuit, which claims that Jones "offered to write his information down for the officers, but the officers refused."

That isn't the only point of difference between the two documents, with the lawsuit alleging that the police also put spike strips under Mahone's car wheels and the police were "highly aggressive and placed Plaintiffs in fear for their safety."

The police report makes no mention of the strips, though the statement released by the Hammond Police Department in response to the lawsuit does say that an officer at the scene told Mahone about the strips.

"Vicari and Turner had no reasonable basis to believe that Jamal had committed any crime," the lawsuit states.

Thomas McDermott, the mayor of Hammond, told the Northwest Indiana Times that he has seen portions of that videotape and says it shows Mahone attempting to flee the scene in the car. "She ran into a stop stick [or strips]," McDermott told the paper.

"If she would have kept going, it would have popped her tires. They were going to flee. They had no respect for the police officers at all. We have video of it."

On Tuesday, the police department announced that all media requests for public information about the incident were to be directed to a local law firm, Eichhorn and Eichhorn, which has defended the city in previous lawsuits involving allegations of police misconduct.

A woman who answered the phone at the law office confirmed that the firm is representing the city. She declined to comment and refused to provide a name or contact information for the person who would be handling requests for public records, before abruptly hanging up.

The Hammond Police Department released a two-page statement reiterating much of the officers' report and standing by their actions.

"The Hammond Police officers were at all times acting in the interest of officer safety and in accordance with Indiana law," the statement said.