Nakina Williams, who filed the lawsuit in federal court last week, is seeking more than $2 million in punitive damages, court records show. The entire incident was captured on video surveillance cameras at the jail.
The city of McAlester, officer Sterling Taylor-Santino and Police Chief Jim Lyles are named as defendants in the suit, which alleges that Williams' civil rights were violated during the June 24 incident.
Taylor-Santino, 33, also has been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the Taser incident. The officer, who remains on the police force, has pleaded not guilty in Pittsburg County District Court.
According to the lawsuit, the officer used excessive force as he dealt with the handcuffed Williams, who is less than 5 feet tall.
The suit also claims that Taylor-Santino, who initially was not aware the incident had been videotaped, lied on a report he filed in connection with the Taser episode.
“In his ‘use of force report,' (Taylor-Santino) sought to cover up and/or conceal his actions … by omitting that (Williams) was handcuffed when she was shot with the Taser,” the suit alleges. “As a result he was found to have acted ‘within policy' by police department officials.”
When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Taylor-Santino said he had no comment about the federal lawsuit filed by Williams or the June 24 incident, referring all questions to his attorney.
Taylor-Santino did confirm that he is still a member of the McAlester Police Department, and Lyles said last month the officer would remain on restricted duty pending the resolution of his criminal case.
Phone messages left with McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak and Lyles were not returned Tuesday. Jeremy Beaver, a local attorney representing Williams in her civil case, said the criminal charges filed against Taylor-Santino should bode well for his client's case in federal court.
“It just reaffirmed our position that she's a victim of a crime,” Beaver said. “We felt that from the beginning, so when they filed the charges, yes, that just confirmed what we've thought all along.”
Video of incident
The June 24 incident was captured on video and shows Taylor-Santino pressing a Taser against the woman's chest before discharging the weapon.
Court records allege Williams, 27, was arrested after being drunk in public the night before and that she was being combative with officers before arriving at the Pittsburg County jail.
Taylor-Santino is due back in court Dec. 14 for a preliminary hearing conference.