The Mesa police officer says he was fearing for his safety when he kicked the legs out from underneath a handcuffed Gilbert man, causing the man’s skull to smash on the concrete.
The Gilbert man, Jamie Anderson, 28, admits in court documents he was "less than cooperative" during his June 16, 2001, arrest, but he is suing Mesa and officer Nathan Sund, accusing them of a civil rights violation, assault and battery, and malicious prosecution.
The suit, filed June 13, stems from an incident in which Sund was alone at 1 a.m. confronting 10 or 12 people who were playing music outside a business at 1348 W. University Drive.
Sund checked Anderson for warrants and found that he had one from Iowa in connection with assaulting a police officer and a traffic warrant from Arizona, according to court documents.
Sund handcuffed Anderson, who then pulled away and told the officer he would have beaten him up if he hadn’t been cuffed, according to court documents from the lawsuit and a criminal case brought against Anderson from the incident.
Sund said the crowd became verbally hostile and distracted him from Anderson.
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge asked Sund in an evidentiary hearing why he swept Anderson’s legs.
"To gain control of the subject. I feared that he would, the close proximity that he was in, the way his body became very rigid and threats ‘to kick my ass,’ that he could easily have headbutted me, kicked me, made some assault on me," Sund said, according to a transcript of the hearing. "So I did the leg sweep in an attempt to gain further control of the defendant."
Anderson suffered a fractured skull and was sent to a hospital, where he stayed for three days, court documents state.
He now suffers constant headaches and ringing ears, according to the lawsuit.
"Defendant Sund without any just cause or provocation assaulted Mr. Anderson," Anderson’s attorney, Michael S. Ryan, wrote in the lawsuit.
Anderson was charged with resisting arrest, but Superior Court Judge Gregory Martin acquitted him of the charge at trial Sept. 25.
Mesa police spokesman Tim Gaffney, on the advice of legal counsel, declined comment.
Anderson is asking for at least $50,000 each in punitive and compensatory damages.