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Federal lawsuit filed against Schoharie sheriff's deputies; Excessive force alleged

Federal lawsuit filed against Schoharie sheriff's deputies; Excessive force alleged

Excessive force and rights violations alleged
Federal lawsuit filed against Schoharie sheriff's deputies; Excessive force alleged
Photographer: Shutterstock

SCHOHARIE COUNTY -- A Middleburgh resident has filed a federal lawsuit against Schoharie County, Sheriff Ron Stevens and two sheriff's deputies alleging the deputies entered his home without permission and then hit him with Taser probes.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

In the lawsuit, Gerald W. Jenkins, 34, alleges sheriff's deputies Stacy Niesz and Jeff Bever entered his home at 7 a.m. on Dec. 30, 2018 without his permission. The suit states Jenkins requested Niesz and Bever leave, but they wouldn't do it. 

"Deputy Stacy Niesz proceeded to direct a Taser toward [Jenkins] and activated or deployed the Taser, causing a probe to strike [Jenkins] on his abdomen above the right side of his waistband and causing another probe to strike [Jenkins'] right leg just below his waistband," the lawsuit reads. 

According to the legal filing, the deputies then placed Jenkins in a patrol car against his will. The suit states the deputies received the assistance of a state trooper with the surname Wissenbech when they placed him in the patrol car. Wissenbech is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. 

The narrative of the lawsuit says Jenkins was then taken to Ellis Hospital for treatment of his injuries. 

"[He] was not charged with a crime or a violation of the law," reads the lawsuit. 

Jenkins' attorney, Michael Basile of Schenectady, states his client's constitutional right to be free from unlawful search and seizure was violated as was his right to liberty and freedom. He also states that Jenkins' right to freedom of speech was violated when he asked the deputies to leave his apartment and was subsequently hit with the taser probes. 

"[Jenkins] was rendered sick and sore, and he has and will continue to experience an exacerbation of post-traumatic stress disorder from which he suffers, past and future mental and emotional suffering, depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, fear of leaving his home, fear for his safety and well-being, and embarrassment," wrote Basile in the suit. 

The lawsuit argues there was no justification for Niesz to use the Taser against Jenkins. The lawsuit also does not offer any explanation for why the deputies entered Jenkins apartment. 

The lawsuit holds Stevens responsible for failing to properly train the two deputies and for not putting into place policies that would have prevented the alleged incident. 

The lawsuit seeks punitive damages to be determined by a jury and attorney's fees. 

Schoharie County Attorney Michael West did not answer attempts to contact him by phone and social media for this story.

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