BISBEE — A videographer who was accosted by police after he recorded an animal control officer at a public park intends to sue the city and the police department for injuries he says he suffered after officers handcuffed him and took him to the ground face first.
Nolan Gouguet of Bisbee News Network is asking the city to pay him not only for his medical expenses of $15,374.90 but also $1 million for physical and emotional distress, among other issues.
His notice of claim hinges on accusations that the city did not properly train its police or its former animal control officer, Dolores Luberto, who has since resigned. Gouguet also claims he was falsely imprisoned by three officers and that they used excessive force.
Additionally, the notice of claim says, the policemen involved in the incident were never investigated for their actions by Bisbee Police supervisors. Luberto was investigated.
“Nolan is damaged financially and in his good name and reputation in the community as a result of the false arrest which was published in the newspapers causing him extreme emotional distress, among the other physical and mental injuries described herein. The claim can be settled in the amount of $1,000,000.00,” the notice of claim says.
The incident leading to the notice of claim made the headlines and beyond. There is video taken by Gouguet and a Bisbee resident who called the animal control officer.
The tussle occurred the afternoon of June 10 at Vista Park in the Warren district of Bisbee. Gouguet was recording another incident in the neighborhood when he noticed Luberto arrive in her vehicle and approach resident Jenny Druckman. The latter had called animal control because she had spotted an injured skunk near the tennis courts at the park.
Gouguet recorded the encounter between the two women until Luberto noticed him and asked him to leave the area even though he was standing several feet away in a public park. Luberto then advanced toward Gouguet, repeating loudly that he had to leave; he recorded her.
Luberto radioed for help from police, stating that Gouguet was interfering with her investigation.
Minutes later, three policemen responded and took Gouguet to the ground and handcuffed him, video from the incident shows. At that point, Druckman began yelling at police to leave Gouguet alone and she recorded them with her cell phone. Luberto approached Druckman, asked her why she was recording, and began arguing with her until one of the officers approached Luberto and led her away.
The notice of claim states Gouguet was injured — he had a concussion, according to the claim — when police manhandled him: “(Gouguet was) viciously slammed to the ground by the officers, causing him to strike his head on the ground and a loss of consciousness, pushed face first into the dirt, and handcuffed and held down for several minutes.”
The officers had no probable cause to handcuff and shove Gouguet to the ground, the notice of claim states, and because of that their actions were false imprisonment.
“No investigation was completed regarding Officers (Carlos) Moreno and (Bradley) Nash and their lack of probable cause to make the arrest,” the notice of claim says. “This is part of a pattern of the Bisbee Police Department not to properly supervise and train its officers.”