Muskogee woman alleges use of excessive force in lawsuit against McAlester officer

MCALESTER, Okla. - A Muskogee woman allegedly tasered by a McAlester police officer last June following her arrest for suspected public intoxication has filed a lawsuit against the city of McAlester, its police chief and the officer.

According to the lawsuit documents filed nearly two weeks ago at U.S. District Court in Muskogee, Nanika Williams seeks in excess of $1 million in damages from the defendants, one of whom is the officer accused of tasing her as she was handcuffed.

Officer Sterling Taylor-Santino, one of the defendants listed in the case, reportedly tased her in June when she was brought handcuffed into the booking area of the Pittsburg County jail and she reportedly spat on him.

Following an investigation into the incident by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, he was charged in October in Pittsburg County District Court with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He is free on bond.

The suit alleges Taylor-Santino during the incident on June 24, "pulled out his taser weapon, pointed it at the center of (Williams') chest and fired from point blank range striking her in the left breast," all while the 4-foot 11-inch tall, 130-pound woman was "unarmed and handcuffed" and "surrounded by several police and law enforcement officers."

The document further claims during Taylor's roughly five years at the department, he "has fired his taser at suspects more than all other officers combined on a force of nearly 40 officers," "has used violent force against suspects more than every other officer in the department," and the force used "has historically been disproportionate to the rest of the officers in the department" – all actions for which he has never received any corrective action.

"The force used by Officer Taylor was excessive and unreasonable and wrongful," reads the document, further stating the actions taken against her were in violation to her Fourth And Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Furthermore, the alleged is that Taylor sought to cover up his actions that day by omitting that Williams was handcuffed when he shot her with the taser.

Williams claims she has suffered deprivation of her constitutional rights as well as past, present and future pain, suffering, emotional distress, psychological distress, mental anguish, physical injury, scarring, disfiguration and medical expenses and, as such, seeks in excess of $75,000 from Taylor in addition to the $1 million in punitive damages.

The purpose of the lawsuit, according to the document, is to punish Taylor "or other officers officers similarly situated from future repeated conduct" and to make an example of him.

Court records indicate Williams was arrested and charged June 25 with assault and battery on a police officer, expectorating on a police officer and public intoxication.

The affidavit filed in connection to the OSBI investigation into the tasing incident said following her arrest and during her drive from the police department to the sheriff's office, she spat on the shield separating her from the driver and hit her head against it as well, all while yelling and cursing at the officer.

The cursing continued at upon arrival to the jail where she allegedly accuse Taylor of slamming her head into a window. When he told her he was was no the officer who drove her to the jail, she allegedly spat at him at which point he tased her, according to the report.

The affidavit said due to the closeness of the taser at its deployment, "there was not a good connection and Williams did not fall to the ground.

Concerning Taylor, an attorney representing the city told 2NEWS Taylor has been placed on restricted duty and is now working a desk job until the criminal proceedings run their course.

At that time, he will likely be returned to regular duty.

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