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Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Lawsuit alleges assault during arrest by police

A Spokane man arrested on domestic violence charges that were later dismissed is suing the Spokane Police Department, claiming five officers assaulted him and violated his constitutional rights. But reports from responding officers indicate Lucas T. Cassidy, 35, was uncooperative and resisted arrest when police attempted to take him into custody.

Cassidy faced charges of assault and obstructing a police officer on Oct. 14, 2012, after a neighbor called to report a man and woman were fighting loudly. The neighbor said she believed the man was hitting the woman and reported hearing the woman tell the man that he had made her bleed.

In a complaint filed Dec. 11, Cassidy contends police conducted an illegal search and seizure by forcing entry to his home after no one answered the door.

He also claims the five officers who entered his home surrounded and assaulted him without provocation after he complied with commands to lie on the ground. His complaint says Officers Joseph Dotson, Todd Belitz, Bradley Zook, Sam Chimienti and Brian Aitken kneed him in the neck, back and sides and held him down, and Belitz put him in a “chokehold” that rendered him unconscious and caused blood vessels in his eyes to burst.

Charges stemming from the arrest were dropped June 20, 2013, after Cassidy’s attorney filed a motion for dismissal on the basis of a warrantless search.

The suit names those five officers, as well as Sgt. Steve Braun, who responded to the call, Chief Frank Straub, the Spokane Police Department and the city of Spokane.

But in police reports filed about the arrest, officers describe Cassidy as resistant and uncooperative and say they needed to force entry to check that his ex-girlfriend was safe.

According to Zook and Aitken’s report, police checked registration on two vehicles outside the house and found one belonged to Cassidy and the other to his ex-girlfriend, who filed for a protection order against him on Sept. 10 that year. Cassidy’s adult son, who is developmentally disabled, also had a one-year protection order against his father, filed on the son’s behalf on June 21, 2012, by the state’s Adult Protective Services.

Police reports say officers knocked and announced themselves at least 15 times, and believed Cassidy might be inside and preventing his ex-girlfriend from answering the door. Zook also found droppings he believed to be dried blood on the back doorstep, adding to concerns she might be injured and inside.

Cassidy initially complied with commands to lie on the ground after officers kicked in the door, but then began tensing his arms and trying to stand up, ignoring commands to relax, according to officers. Belitz used a level two neck restraint, which temporarily cuts off blood flow to the brain, to render Cassidy unconscious.

Cassidy did not file a use of force complaint after the incident. Cassidy filed a claim for damages – required before a lawsuit can be filed – for $100,000 with the city of Spokane on Dec. 27, 2013. His attorney, Douglas Phelps, said they filed a civil suit because the deadline for filing was coming up and the city claim had not been resolved.

In his suit, Cassidy seeks an unspecified amount in damages for medical bills, property damage and lost earnings.

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