OGDEN -- An Ogden man filed a federal lawsuit Friday against four Utah Highway Patrol troopers, alleging they used excessive force in punching him at least seven times and stunning him with a Taser during a July traffic stop in Ogden.
Ronny Todd May filed the suit against troopers Brandon Whitehead, Jared Patterson, Joshua Porter and E. Prescott in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. The complaint seeks at least $250,000 in damages.
May's treatment by the troopers is inexcusable, his attorney Robert B. Sykes, said Friday "It was a savage beating for no reason," he said.
The UHP can't comment on the suit because the Weber County Attorney's Office has not yet screened potential criminal charges against May, said UHP spokesman Dwayne Baird.
According to the suit, on the night of July 9, May was driving toward his office in Ogden, following a female friend who was experiencing car problems.
Whitehead determined he should pull May and the woman over after they ran a red light on Wall Avenue. He activated his patrol car's emergency lights near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and 26th Street, says the suit.
May stopped some distance away and provided his driver's license to Whitehead, but could not immediately locate his vehicle registration or insurance information.
Whitehead then approached the vehicle driven by May's friend and recognized her as having acted in the past as a confidential informant to the Weber Morgan Narcotic Strike Force, as well as having provided Whitehead with information, the suit states.
Whitehead asked the woman if she knew May to be in possession of any "illicit paraphernalia" and she allegedly said yes, the suit says.
Whitehead returned to May's vehicle, requested him to step out of the car and then asked whether he was using or in possession of any drugs. May responded that he was on prescription methamphetamine.
Whitehead said in a police report that May appeared unusually nervous during the traffic stop and had several physical characteristics of recent drug use.
"I observed that he spoke very rapidly, was visibly nervous, was sweating profusely and could not remain still," Whitehead said in the report.
Whitehead conducted a probable cause search of May and asked him to remove his shoes, says the lawsuit. May removed his right shoe first, then his left shoe. While taking off his left shoe, May retrieved a small item that had been inside one of his shoes but outside his sock. He told Whitehead that it was prescription methamphetamine and placed the item in his mouth, according to the suit.
Whitehead noted that the item from May's shoe was a small plastic bag that allegedly contained a loose granular white substance, the suit says.
The lawsuit goes on to say that Whitehead grabbed May's face and ordered him to spit out whatever he had just placed in his mouth.
Before May could respond, Whitehead moved around to position himself for a headlock or choke hold around May's neck.
Whitehead and the three other troopers then began to use considerable excessive, unnecessary force to get May to spit out the object in his mouth and within moments had dragged him to the ground and were on top of him, the lawsuit states.
One of the troopers delivered a powerful, closed-fist punch to May's face, striking him in the left eye socket, leaving him with a concussion and severe black eye, according to the suit.
While the other troopers were ordering May to "spit it out," Patterson delivered seven or eight closed fist punches to May's back and side, says the complaint.
Then, while two other troopers knelt on May and gripped his arm, Patterson and possibly another trooper applied two to four Taser bursts to May's back, says the suit.
Whitehead said in the police report that his right foot was injured and that his back and right knee were seriously strained while trying to take May to the ground.
The UHP report says that after May was treated at a hospital, he was booked into the Weber County Jail for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, destruction of evidence, resisting arrest, assault on a peace officer, driving under the influence, a red light violation, failure to yield and following too close.