ALEXANDRIA, Va. - A federal judge said a lawsuit against Fairfax County that alleges a police officer used excessive force can move forward.
The September 2015 incident showing an officer using a stun gun on Elton Cansler was recorded by witnesses on their cell phones in a shopping plaza in the Franconia area of Fairfax County.
During a hearing on Friday, the judge referred to the video calling it "pretty clear evidence" documenting what happened.
“I'm feeling good that everything is going forward,” said Cansler.
The lawsuit filed by Cansler and his attorneys states that the amount of force used by Officer Alan Hanks was excessive.
“The suit alleges a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights,” said Maxwelle Sokol, Cansler’s attorney.
Those rights guarantee a reasonable amount of force during an arrest. The portion of the lawsuit states that department policies violate those constitutional protections.
Several days after the incident, Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler held a press conference clearing Officer Hanks of any wrongdoing and saying he complied with policy.
“If a police department's policy says using the Taser as it was used in this case is fine, then that is a deficient policy,” said Sokol.
However, the portion of the suit that names the police chief personally as a defendant was dismissed. But it can be filed again at a later time.
Fairfax County officials and attorneys declined to comment due to pending litigation. They instead referred us back to a written statement released by Chief Roessler in 2015 that said in part:
“The officer, a seven year member of the department, currently assigned to the Franconia District Station, was confronted by a man, later identified as Elton Cansler, who was physically resisting a lawful arrest, assaulted the officer, and kept reaching to his pocket where a knife had been seen by the officer. At the time of the deployment of the ECW, the officer could not see where Mr. Cansler’s hands were going and had reasonable fear that Mr. Cansler was again reaching into his pocket for the knife.
“The officer’s discretion was appropriately used to deploy a form of a less-lethal force and in compliance with all policies and laws in this matter.”
Cansler's attorney said the video shows his hands remained on the hood of the cruiser when he was Tased.
“I just want right to be right,” Cansler said.
The lawsuit does not ask for a specific amount of money. Instead, it leaves that up to a jury.