By Eric Lyttle
The Columbus Dispatch
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — A Hamilton County man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Fayette County sheriff and a deputy, as well as a State Highway Patrol trooper alleging excessive use of force after he was shot in the eye with a Taser.
Matthew David Kelly, 24, of Harrison, sued on April 2 in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, alleging near total loss of vision in his right eye after he was shot twice by Deputy Clinton Sines. He asked for compensatory damages of $5 million on each of four counts.
Kelly was asleep in the passenger seat while his friend, Justin Runck, drove south on I-71 west of Washington Courthouse just before 4 a.m. on May 25, 2013.
As Kelly slept, Runck was pulled over and arrested for drunken driving by Trooper Bryan Cook. After securing Runck, Cook then tried to wake Kelly. He reached through the open driver's side door and across the seat, calling, "Hey partner. Hey," and then shaking him.
Kelly, according to the complaint, was "startled and flailed his arms over his head."
Fayette County Deputy Clinton Sines, who had stopped to assist, then ran to the passenger side of the truck and, with his Taser drawn, opened the door and shouted, "Sheriff's office, show us your hands. I know you're asleep, now get out," as he grabbed the back of Kelly's sweatshirt and began to try to pull him out of the truck.
Sines gave a couple of hard tugs, apparently unaware that the wordless and apparently confused Kelly was being held in place by his seat belt.
"I'll tase you," Sines told Kelly as he continued to yank Kelly from the truck. When Sines' grip slipped, Kelly rose and Sines fired his Taser. The Taser prong struck Kelly in the right eye.
Sines directed Kelly to "get on the ground, get on the ground now," and threatened, "I'll do it again." Kelly fell back into the seat and covered his head with both arms. Sines allegedly fired a second jolt into Kelly's eye.
Sines tried to pull Kelly out again, and then realized Kelly's seatbelt was still fastened. Cook reached in and released it and walked Kelly to the back of the truck, as Kelly complained, "My eye hurts."
He was taken to Fayette Memorial Hospital and then to Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, where the Taser prong was removed hours later, according to the complaint.
Sines is named in the suit for excessive force.
Cook is cited for failing to prevent Sines from using his Taser.
Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth was named for negligently failing to properly train Sines, citing Sines disciplinary record, which includes a 1999 letter for unprofessional conduct, two reprimands in 2010 for neglect of duty and a 2011 action in which Sines was sued for violating the constitutional rights of an 18-year-old woman during a traffic stop as.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Kelly's lawyer, Jeffrey Witt, declined further comment, as did Patrol spokesman Lt. Craig Cvetan. The Fayette County sheriff's office did not return calls.
Copyright 2014 The Columbus Dispatch