Ten Omaha police officers used excessive force when they arrested a house painter at a hospital last year, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week.
Attorneys for Robert Wagner, 36, said he did not resist as officers jumped on his back, hit and kicked him and stunned him with an electroshock gun. Wagner said he was “viciously beaten’’ in the incident, some of which was recorded by a surveillance camera.
The officers and the City of Omaha were named as defendants in the complaint, which alleges Wagner’s civil rights were violated. City attorney Paul Kratz said the incident has been reviewed and he is “confident that we can defend the city successfully.”
Wagner was arrested May 29, 2011, at Creighton University Medical Center, where he had gone to visit a cousin who had been shot and was dying. Two of the officers involved in the Wagner arrest, Jackie Dolinsky and Aaron Pennington, were fired. An arbitrator overturned Dolinsky’s termination and reinstated her. Pennington’s appeal is pending arbitration.
The lawsuit says Wagner “attempted to swat at” an officer’s flashlight that was blinding him as he walked away from the hospital.
Wagner does not acknowledge, as he appeared to do in a recorded telephone call, that he intentionally swung at a police officer.
That call, placed from jail, was played in court and outside the presence of a jury that was weighing his case after he was charged with assaulting the officer. The jury did not reach a verdict.
Wagner later pleaded no contest to attempted assault of Officer Scott Zymball, who is among the defendants in the lawsuit.
One of the police officers said, “That was fun!” or something similar at the end of the encounter with Wagner, the lawsuit contends.
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Video of Robert Wagner arrest