McLEAN, Va. (WJLA) — A former Loudoun County deputy is being sued after a patrol car camera appears to show him sprinting to knock out an unsuspecting arrestee with a blow to the back of the head.
Sterling resident Carlos Garcia filed the lawsuit in federal court in Alexandria against former deputy Terry Daniel, who now lives in Alabama.
Video from the November 2009 arrest has been posted on YouTube. It depicts a Loudoun deputy charging from behind at Garcia, who is standing with his hands raised next to another deputy.
Garcia wound up being charged with assaulting a police officer and pleaded to reduced charges, though he now insists he did nothing wrong. Daniel was promoted before resigning last year.
In the lawsuit, Garcia says the blow knocked him unconscious and has left him with permanent brain damage, including headaches, loss of memory and confusion.
"I've been doing this 35 years, and this is the first time my case doesn't need a witness. My case is that tape," Victor Glasberg, Garcia's lawyer, said.
Daniel submitted a resignation letter saying he was taking another law-enforcement job in another state, said Liz Mills, a spokeswoman for the Loudoun County sheriff.
Records show that Daniel was promoted in 2010 – a year after the incident – to a job as a training officer, Mills said.
Daniel, 34, who now lives in Valley, Ala., said in a phone interview that he is coordinating with the county to hire a lawyer.
He declined further comment. Mills said the incident occurred under the previous sheriff, Steven Simpson, who lost his bid for re-election last year.
The new sheriff, Mike Chapman, campaigned on a pledge to restore professionalism to the sheriff's office, she said.
In the lawsuit, Glasberg writes that Garcia consistently denied assaulting anyone, but opted to plead guilty to a reduced charge with a suspended sentence to avoid a felony trial.
And Glasberg said the criminal allegations are unrelated to the assault Garcia suffered; even if the incident had unfolded as police described, it would have been minutes before Daniel's attack on Garcia, Glasberg said.
According to the lawsuit, Garcia was out with family celebrating his wife's birthday at a restaurant in a Sterling shopping center.
Realizing they'd had too much to drink, the family called for a taxi to get home.
But the taxi driver could not take the entire party, and a deputy told Garcia and his family to get out of the cab.
After the taxi drove off, a dispute ensued between the deputy and members of Garcia's family.
At the time Daniel pulled up in his patrol car, Garcia was standing with his hands in the air as his wife was being arrested, insisting that his wife be treated with care, according to the civil complaint.
"Daniel used outrageous, abusive, unreasonable and excessive force in striking Mr. Garcia on the head and stepping on his face, thereby depriving Mr. Garcia of his constitutionally protected rights," Glasberg wrote in the lawsuit.
The suit names only Daniel as a defendant. It seeks unspecified monetary damages. Glasberg said the patrol video surfaced when one of Garcia's family members challenged the criminal charges at trial.