Citizen Staff Writer
A 54-year-old Tucson man said two deputies roughed him up during a 2003 concert and wants $2 million in compensation.
Francisco U. Sanchez is suing Lt. Karl Woolridge and former Deputy Donald E. Doyle in U.S. District Court, saying they violated his civil rights by using excessive force to arrest him.
Woolridge and Doyle say they were justified in shocking Sanchez with a Taser and forcing him to the ground after he punched Woolridge twice and poured beer on them.
Eight jurors were chosen Tuesday as the lawsuit went to trial before Judge Raner C. Collins.
“Mr. Sanchez walked into the concert at Old Tucson Studios on May 25, 2003,” his attorney, Natasha Wrae, told jurors in opening statements, “but he never walked out.”
Wrae said Sanchez and others watched as Woolridge tried and failed to shock with a Taser another concertgoer who allegedly was fighting with another man. Woolridge and Doyle struggled to subdue that man on the ground, while security officers contained an angry crowd.
Wrae said Woolridge’s version of events – that Sanchez then punched him twice with a closed fist, poured beer on both deputies and then tried to disappear into the crowd to avoid arrest – is incorrect.
After being shot with the Taser and then struck in the legs, Sanchez’s right ankle was fractured in three places, Wrae said.
Sanchez, who wasn’t prosecuted for any charge, was hogtied and dragged away by the deputies, Wrae said.
Sanchez has had four surgeries on the ankle, will never have full use of it and will likely suffer excruciating pain for the rest of his life, Wrae said.
He also injured both wrists being handcuffed and aggravated a previous back injury, she said.
Sanchez is asking for $1 million for medical expenses and $1 million for emotional injury.
Jurors could also decide to impose any punitive damage if they rule in Sanchez’s favor.
Deputy County Attorney Nancy Jane Davis said Woolridge and Doyle “were doing what they were trained to do.”
“Frank Sanchez, the plaintiff, made a series of really bad decisions and got himself injured and now he’s trying to blame my clients,” Davis said.
Sanchez was drunk, attacked Woolridge, then tried to avoid arrest, Davis said.
Sanchez wasn’t hogtied, but was carried to a secure location for medical help, Davis said.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Sanchez . . . chose to engage in a course of conduct that caused uniformed officers to react and respond like we train them to do,” Davis said. “The only person responsible for Mr. Sanchez’s injuries is Mr. Sanchez himself.”
The trial is expected to last four to six days.