Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – A legal battle is brewing in the city of Syracuse after a disabled man was tased by a police officer on a city bus after his refusal to sit down. Security camera footage shows a dramatic scene as it unfolded on a Centro bus in May
That day, passenger Brad Hulett planned to do what he says he always does: ride the bus while standing.
Hulett suffered neurological damage in 1991 after being hit by two trains, causing him to be handicapped.
“Because my back feels better standing up that sitting down...puts more pressure on two herniated disks,” Hulett said.
When the driver asked him to sit down, he refused.
Syracuse Police were called and officers ordered Hulett to get off of the bus.
He again refused, saying he was doing nothing wrong.
“I paid to be on the bus, therefore, I was not on there illegally. And I was not doing nothing that was not in my right,” Hulett said.
After approximately a minute of back-and-forth with police, the incident escalated and police deployed a taser.
In the video, an officer appears to lift up Hulett’s shirt and then fires the taser.
Hulett can be heard apparently howling in pain in the video.
Now, Hulett and his lawyer, Rick Guy, will sue the city of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and Centro.
Guy says the case is based on excessive and unnecessary force.
Hulett says he was discriminated against in not being allowed to stand.
He says other passengers that day were not forced to sit and he stood on a different bus earlier in the day.
On other occasions, he had been told to sit, but got off the bus and lost his fare. This time, he did not want to lose his fare.
“But I cant do so cause I sound and look like I do, which is discrimination on their part,” Hulett said.
Following the first taser shot, Hulett can be seen being picked up and dragged outside and onto the sidewalk, where he was tased again. He was then dragged away and arrested.
Hulett said he suffered a broken hip after the altercation and still walks with a cane.
He says he regrets not telling police about his back problems, but his lawyer says he did not have the chance.
“The officers were not in a listening mode. And they seemed intent on jumping right to the use of force,” Guy said.
Police charged Hulett with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
The charges are still pending, but Guy insists they be thrown out of court.
Now, Hulett and Guy say they plan to sue the city, the county, and the bus service.
NewsChannel 9 reached out to all three parties.
The mayor’s office, Onondaga County, and the police say they can’t comment because of pending litigation.
Centro replied via email:
Centro does not comment on matters of pending litigation. Centro drivers are trained to constantly assess passenger safety and take action where they feel passenger safety may be a concern. This includes requesting passengers to sit when seats are available.
In addition to the incident on the bus, Hulett plans to sue the county for the aftermath in jail.
He claims he was forced to stand up in his wheelchair with a broken hip and a nurse at the jail declined to give him proper care.