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Lawyer stunned twice at code hearing sues Tampa police

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 12:25 PM
TAMPA -

A lawyer who was twice shocked by police with a stun gun during a Code Enforcement Board hearing four years ago is suing the Tampa Police Department.

Police said Carl Roland Hayes, 57, became upset when he was addressing the board on Nov. 26, 2008. Hayes was there to respond to a notice of violation he had received for installing nonconforming windows in his Ybor City building.

Police said that as Hayes was being escorted out of the meeting, he slapped an officer's face. Police said Hayes was stunned twice because the first time had no obvious effect.

According to a lawsuit filed for Hayes by attorney Barry Cohen, Hayes had reached an agreement with the board and was walking away from the podium when neighboring property owners "took exception to the board's action and began loudly demanding that the board take additional action" against Hayes.

Hayes paused, the lawsuit says, and turned to again address the board. "A loud discussion ensued between the objecting neighbors, certain board members and Hayes," the lawsuit states.

Officer Donald Miller, who was not in uniform and didn't identify himself, according to the lawsuit, began pushing Hayes toward the exit. As they entered the lobby, Miller shocked Hayes in the torso with his stun gun, the suit says.

"Although Hayes did not physically resist or fight with Miller, the officer apparently had difficulty applying the handcuffs," the lawsuit states. "Miller therefore again tased Hayes as Hayes lay face down on the ground — compliant and nonresistant."

Hayes was charged with battery of a law enforcement officer, obstructing or opposing an officer with violence and trespassing. He was released from Orient Road Jail after posting $4,500 bail. According to the lawsuit, the charges were later dismissed by the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages and legal fees, was initially filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, then later transferred to federal court.

In a response, Assistant City Attorney Ursula D. Richardson wrote that Miller's use of force was "reasonable and necessary in light of the fact that plaintiff was struggling against Officer Miller and took a fighting stance while Officer Miller attempted to effect his physical arrest."

Once Hayes was handcuffed and cooperative, no force was used against him, the response states. Miller, "at all times, acted in good faith, without malice and within the scope and duties of his employment as a police officer."

Richardson also wrote that Miller, "reasonably appeared to be a law enforcement officer and/or plaintiff knew or should have known, defendant was a law enforcement officer."


esilvestrini@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7837 Twitter: @ElaineTrib
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