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A Chicago man alleges that an altercation with Chicago Police Department officers where he was beaten and jolted 11 times with a Taser was a case of mistaken identity, and has filed a federal lawsuit against the officers and the city.
Josue Tapia, 27, was hospitalized for a week with injuries that resulted from an interaction with Chicago police on May 15, 2010, when he was stopped for a minor traffic offense at 43rd and Paulina, NBC Chicago reports. When police ran his name through their computer system, they found an outstanding DUI warrant for a J. Tapia, who was described as 12 years older, 30 pounds lighter, 6 inches smaller and reportedly lived 40 miles away.
The officers arrested Tapia and searched his vehicle, Fox Chicago reports. During the arrest, the suit alleges that officers struck and kicked Tapia, and used a Taser on him 11 times, although Tapia says he did not resist.
"I was screaming and crying and I was telling them to please leave him alone, leave him alone. It just felt like a nightmare," Marilyn Tapia, Josue's wife, told ABC Chicago. "They just kept cursing me out and telling me to go away or they were going to arrest me."
Following the incident, Tapia was charged with several counts of aggravated battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, according to the Chicago Tribune. The federal suit claims police officers were trying to cover up their mistake by falsely reporting that Tapia was under the influence of alcohol and the drug PCP, but a medical report from Tapia's treatment after the altercation found neither substance in his system.
Tapia's lawyers say the officers claimed Tapia could withstand the repeated Taser discharges because he was under the influence of alcohol and PCP, ABC reports.
Tapia stood trial for the battery and resisting arrest charges Nov. 3 and was found not guilty, according to Fox. The trial included testimony from an emergency room doctor who treated Tapia.
"The jury obviously did not buy the lame excuse of the police officers for the treatment of Mr. Tapia" attorney Dennis Giovannini said in a release.
Tapia's lawyers are accusing the police officers of filing the charges against him as part of an effort to cover up their mistake. The seven-count suit claims false arrest, excessive force, failure to intervene, and says that Tapia suffered physical injury, humiliation and emotional and psychological distress, Fox reports. Tapia is seeking a jury trial, damages, court costs and attorney fees.
Tapia says the incident has had a dramatic impact on his well-being, leaving him in constant pain, wrought with anxiety and unable to work.
"It was a case of tasering him over and over and over and over again in a horrific way," Blake Horowitz, Tapia's lawyer, told ABC. "And it literally fried him. It fried his mind."