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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Houston Texans Offensive Lineman Fred Weary Sues Houston - Racial Profiling - ESPN & AP

Weary sues city of Houston, two officers over Taser arrest

ESPN.com news services

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans offensive lineman Fred Weary is suing the city and two police officers for a November 2006 arrest in which he was shot with a Taser gun during a traffic stop.

In his lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, Weary is accusing the city and the officers of excessive force, assault, racial profiling, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

"I have to put closure on this situation and this is my first step to closure," Weary told KRIV-TV in Houston. "It's really taken a toll on my life and my family. I didn't know last year that it would affect me the way it has. It's my right that I need to do something about it.

"I feel my rights have been violated that day last year," Weary told KRIV-TV. "I have had to deal with that for this whole entire year. I've thought about it a lot. It's been on my mind constantly."

The two officers said they stopped Weary because he didn't have a front license plate and was driving "suspiciously."

According to the police report, the 6-foot-4, 308-pound Weary became angry and uncooperative after being stopped in an area near Reliant Stadium, where authorities were on alert because of criminal activity. Weary was coming from a team practice when he was stopped.

Police said Weary was shot with a Taser after he pushed one of the officers away and then tried to come toward them after being told to put his hands on his vehicle.

A misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest was later dismissed because of insufficient evidence.

Weary's attorney, Joe Walker, told KRIV that his client's lawsuit doesn't specify a dollar amount.

"I will leave that to the sound discretion of the jury," Walker told KRIV.

The officers "clearly used race as a factor for reasonable suspicion and making a traffic stop of Mr. Weary," Walker said.

Walker said Tuesday that Weary would not have filed the lawsuit if he had received letters of apology from Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt.

He had also asked for monetary compensation, which would have been donated to a police charity, and that the city review its policies regarding racial profiling and the use of Tasers.

"He never got his letter of apology or a concrete review of tasering," Walker said. "He asked for a copy of [taser] policies and they sent him a policy that was completely blacked out, censored."

Walker said the city's policy on Taser use needs to be re-examined because some reviews done by local media and advocacy groups show that in more than 350 of the first 900 police Taser incidents, no person was charged.

Weary's taser incident renewed controversy over the stun guns' use, prompting White to call for a study of how officers have used the devices. The study, being conducted by the University of Houston Center for Public Policy, is set to be done by January.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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