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Published: Friday, 2/23/2007

Suit accuses 3 city police of excessive use of force

A Toledo police sergeant and two other officers have been accused in a civil lawsuit of using excessive and unreasonable force and unlawfully entering the home of a central-city man last summer.

Jack Colbert, 45, claims that Sgt. Richard Moreno entered his residence at 939 Woodstock Ave. and that the sergeant shocked him with a Taser after Mr. Colbert, according to the lawsuit, witnessed Officers Andre Cowell and Lon Woodard assault a man who had been stopped in front of the plaintiff's home for a traffic violation.

The three officers, police Chief Mike Navarre, the city, and the police department were named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Toledo.

The manufacturer of the Taser, which is listed as John Doe company, also is named as a defendant in the complaint, which asks for a jury trial and more than $75,000 in damages.

According to a police report, the incident Aug. 31 resulted in Mr. Colbert being arrested and charged with drug trafficking, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to secure a dangerous ordnance, failing to obtain a handgun permit, and menacing.

Two handguns, ammunition, marijuana, and other drug-related items were found in the plaintiff's home, the police report said.

The trafficking offense and two counts of menacing were later dismissed in Toledo Municipal Court. The other charges, all misdemeanors, are pending.

The lawsuit claims the incident occurred after Mr. Colbert witnessed Sergeant Moreno use a Taser on a 28-year-old Toledo man who tried to escape during the traffic stop in the 900 block of Woodstock.

The police report said the suspect, who was arrested on 20 outstanding warrants, was shocked with a Taser after he punched Sergeant Moreno in the face.

Mr. Colbert claims that Officers Cowell and Woodard arrived and "began to brutally kick" the man "about his face, head, and body" while he was in handcuffs, and the officers told Mr. Colbert that "he would be next" after he yelled at the officers to stop.

Mr. Colbert claims that as he was going into his home he announced he was going to call the media to report the abuse and that the officers ran after him, entered his home, and assaulted him.

According to Sergeant Moreno's report, Mr. Colbert threatened the officers while they were arresting the man from the traffic stop. He was chased into his home after refusing to comply with an order to stop and was shocked with the Taser when he refused to get on the floor, the report said.

Besides claims of constitutional rights violations, Mr. Colbert said he was falsely charged and maliciously prosecuted.

Chief Navarre said that he was unaware of the lawsuit and would be unable to comment.

The others could not be reached for comment.

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