Evansville Police Officers Sued For Brutality In Traffic Stop
Three Evansville police officers along with the town are being sued in federal court for alleged conduct that occurred during a 2018 traffic stop.
Sergeant Luke Nelson, Officer Matthew McGraw and Officer Bryce Norcross are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for Wyoming.
Brandon Wuebker claims he was needlessly and brutally beaten before his May 20, 2018 wrongful arrest in which all charges were dismissed in "the interest of justice."
According to the suit, Brandon Wuebker was getting a ride home from a friend. As Wuebker was sitting in the backseat, the driver was pulled over.
The suit says Norcross pulled over the vehicle and obtained identification from both passengers and the driver. No one in the car had any outstanding warrants, nor were they suspected of a crime.
Nelson and McGraw arrived shortly after in support of Norcross.
According to the lawsuit, Wuebker informed officers that he needed to use the restroom and requested permission to get out of the car to do so at a nearby gas station.
At some point, Wuebker attempted to get out of the vehicle and use the bathroom. The suit describes his need as "increasingly urgent." Officers ordered Wuebker to stay in the car.
"Sergeant Nelson, apparently annoyed by minor verbal protests by the female passenger in the front seat of the car (who called Sg.t Nelson a 'f-----g pig and f-----g a-----e'), declared his own intention to retaliate and 'f--k' these people up,'" the suit states. "Mr. Wuebker was unarmed and had not committed any crime and defendants did not even have reasonable suspicion that he had committed any crime sufficient to detain him.
"Even so, defendants arrested him without even reasonable suspicion, by insisting he was not free to leave to go to the bathroom."
The suit states Wuebker attempted to slowly clamber out the backseat of the vehicle, so he could walk to the bathroom. At that point, the suit says, officers screamed that he was under arrest and told him to get out of the car."
According to the suit, McGraw and Nelson attempted to remove Wuebker from the car, who reportedly did not act aggressively or threateningly toward any of the officers.
"None of the defendant officers could have conceivably been in reasonable fear for their safety based upon any of Mr. Wuebker's conduct or the circumstances confronting them," the suit states. "Nevertheless, Defendant McGraw, without warning, unjustifiably pepper-sprayed Mr. Wuebker."
Court documents state McGraw suddenly and violently dragged Wuebker out of the vehicle. As this was happening, and still without Wuebker posing any threat, Norcross fired his Taser into Wuebker's chest.
"At this point, the defendants had forcibly dragged Mr. Wuebker fully out of the vehicle, having disabled him with pepper spray and taser shocks, and then they slammed him headfirst into the road," the suit claims. "While Mr. Wubker was on the ground crying out in excruciating pain and bleeding from the gaping head wound that defendants had just inflicted on him, Defendant Norcross again (and once again without warning) deployed his Taser in drive stun mode into Mr. Wuebker."
The suit states after "this overwhelmingly and violent and injurious force," Wuebker was handcuffed.
Wuebker was subsequently taken to the Natrona County Detention Center on charges of obstructing a peace officer.
"In addition to pepper-spraying him and tasing him twice, defendants inflicted upon Mr. Wuebker both a concussion and a gaping head wound which required stitches to close," the suit states.
It continues: "On February 27, 2019, the baseless charge against Mr. Wuebker was dismissed when the prosecutor examined the facts of the case and determined it was in 'the best interest of justice' that he not be charged with any offense."
None of the officers involved in the suit was ever disciplined for their actions, nor was anyone informed by command staff that his conduct fell outside of approved departmental custom or practice, the suit states.