Lawsuit alleges PCSO Misconduct

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By Zach Richter Southeast Valley Ledger 

On Sept. 14, 2012 the Law Office of Alan K. Wittig filed a civil rights complaint in the US District Court of Arizona on behalf of Jimmy and Dorsey Gradis against Pinal County, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Paul Babeu and Deputies C. Todd, P. Dudish, M. White, T. Carter, R. Skedel and J. Poterson.

The complaint states, “On or about October 4, 2011, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department, there was a report of a black man outside his home shooting at dogs with a shotgun [at the plaintiff’s address].”

The Southeast Valley Ledger spoke with Attorney Alan Wittig about the case and what his clients have done in the intervening year.

“There had been negotiations between the County Insurance Fund to determine whether there would be a settlement prior to the proceedings,” Wittig said. “It’s the usual process; offers go back and forth for settlements kind of like a car accident.”

The complaint goes on to indicate that in responding to the call seven police offers surrounded the residence with their weapons drawn, held the family at gunpoint and searched the home without the homeowner’s consent.

The complaint alleges that in doing so the, “Deputies violated the Fourteenth and Fourth Amendment civil rights of the Plaintiffs under color of law. By the actions of the Deputies they also caused intentional and negligent emotional distress to the Plaintiffs.”

As a result, the complaints states the plaintiff is asking for an award of punitive damages in an amount believed by the Court to be appropriate in addition to costs, expenses and attorney fees. They are also asking for the court to grant, “Additional and equitable and legal relief as it deems proper and just.”

Wittig clarified that the Gradis family would like a million dollars plus expenses.

“A case like this is fairly straightforward,” Wittig continued. “But of course the attorney’s on the part of the Sheriff’s department will want to depose my clients and I want to interview the deputies and so on and so forth. It may be six months or a year [before the case sees a courtroom]. I hope they at least understand that I’m serious and we move forward fairly rapidly.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and the Pinal County Attorney’s Office declined to comment on complaint.

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