Man sues 2 years after being hogtied by Eastern Plains police
Ten seconds after Christian Weitzel walked to the door of his home, Sterling Police Officer Paul McDaniel had his hands on him and took him to the ground.
Two minutes later, McDaniel had bound Weitzel’s legs and hands and connected them together in a restraint known as hogtying, while another Sterling officer and a Logan County deputy continued to hold him down.
Weitzel stayed face down for more than 10 minutes, including during a ride in the backseat of a patrol car while officers transported him to the Logan County Jail.
Last week, nearly two years to the date of the incident, Weitzel filed a civil rights lawsuit against McDaniel, Sterling Police Sgt. Matt Williams and Logan County Deputy Alton McGuffin.
“The amount of force used by Defendant McDaniel against Mr. Weitzel as described above, without warning or justification despite Mr. Weitzel being defenseless, nonthreatening, non-resistant, and not attempting to flee, was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances and inflicted unnecessary injury, pain and suffering upon Mr. Weitzel,” the lawsuit says.
Sterling Police Chief Tyson Kerr told 9NEWS McDaniel resigned in February of 2021.
He said a use of force review was conducted after the arrest, but there was no internal affairs investigation into the use of force. Kerr did not say what the result of that review was.
“The Sterling Police Department takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously,” Kerr said in a statement.
Logan County Sheriff Brent Powell has not yet responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
Officers were responding to a call from a neighbor who said they heard loud voices when they arrived at Weitzel’s door.
When police arrived, Weitzel’s wife answered the door. McDaniel asked her what was going on. She said, “just an argument.”
When Christian Weitzel came to the door, McDaniel asked him to step outside the house. Weitzel responded “I’m cool.” McDaniel continued to ask him to come out. Weitzel didn't.
“I was standing in my door… it was COVID time, and I was trying to be safe,” Weitzel said in an interview Thursday.
Ten seconds after he came to the door, McDaniel reached in and grabbed at Weitzel. He eventually takes him to the ground.
While there, McGuffin and Williams help hold Weitzel down as McDaniel binds his legs and then connects the leg restraints to the handcuffs.
“I was in shock,” Weitzel said. “I didn’t know what to think at the time, I was just in shock.”
Weitzel is then carried to a patrol car and placed in the backseat also face down and transported to the jail.
“It infuriated me how I was treated,” he said.
When a suspect is hogtied, they have their handcuffed hands tied to their bound feet while lying face down. A 1995 bulletin from the Department of Justice warns officers to avoid the use of hogtying restraint, instructing them to get a suspect off their stomach as soon as possible and to never tie handcuffs to a leg or ankle restraint.
NBC News and The Marshall Project investigated hogtying and hobble restraints last year and found 23 deaths involving the practice since 2010.
A hobble restraint is similar to a hogtying restraint, but in a hobble, a suspect's bound legs are attached to a belt around their waist rather than connected to their handcuffs.
Many police departments have banned the hogtying altogether, including the Aurora Police Department. A department manual released in 2020 specifically forbids the practice.
NBC News found the Aurora Police Department used hobble restraints 350 times between 2016 and 2021. Aurora paid out a $100,000 settlement to Vanessa Peoples, who was held in a hobble restraint in 2017, dislocating her arm.