ALEXANDRIA, Va. - In September 2015, an incident was captured on cellphone video that showed a police officer using a Taser on a man in Fairfax County. The man, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is suing for excessive force in this case.
It all started at a SunTrust Bank in the Rose Hill area of Franconia in Fairfax County. Elton Cansler took a pair of sunglasses from inside the bank and then took off. Police were then called. On the cellphone video, a responding officer uses his Taser on the man.
“His actions there – we are saying is excessive force,” said Cansler’s attorney, Maxwelle Sokol. “He has his hands up, the hands go on the hood of the car, he gets tased.”
The original lawsuit was filed this past December. In January, the police chief filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. This week, Cansler's attorneys have responded.
“On February 8th, we filed in opposition to that motion claiming that we in fact did allege enough facts to proceed,” Sokol said.
Cansler is suing Alan Hanks, the officer involved in the incident, as well as Fairfax County’s police chief and the county.
“They rubberstamped this and said this is totally compliant with our policies,” said Sokol. “So that is the basis for the county's liability – their after-the-fact ratification and endorsement of his actions.”
Officer Hanks was cleared of any wrongdoing days after the incident by the police department. The department released a detailed breakdown of the incident and it said in part that Cansler put his hands in his pockets and he had a knife. It also said he refused commands to put his hands behind his back and resisted arrest.
One of the witnesses who took the cell phone video said at the time after the 2015 incident, “The gentleman just happened to be walking down the sidewalk and the cop pulls up in front of him, tells him to turn over, and as soon as he has his back turned towards him, he tases him. He didn’t see it coming.”
Both sides are still waiting for a ruling on whether the lawsuit against the police department and the county can move forward. It may all be decided at a hearing scheduled in March. The lawsuit against the officer will likely continue because he has not filed a motion to dismiss it.