The city of Vallejo has agreed to pay $4.15 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a man who said police seriously injured his spinal cord after entering his home without a warrant.
Officers Jason Wentz and John Boyd went into Macario Dagdagan’s home on Louisiana Street without a warrant in June 2007 while investigating reports that he had assaulted his girlfriend, the city has acknowledged.
The officers found Dagdagan in bed at his apartment, apparently asleep, roused him, shocked him with a Taser stun device and put him in a chokehold, rupturing a ligament in his spine that led to paralysis, said Dagdagan’s attorney, Peter Alfert.
Doctors at Stanford Medical Center were able to reverse the paralysis, Alfert said.
In court papers, attorneys for the city said Dagdagan was intoxicated, verbally aggressive and “failed to follow even basic lawful demands.” Dagdagan had been accused of grabbing a meat cleaver, pulling his girlfriend’s hair, slamming her into a wall and threatening to kill her, the city said.
A federal judge in Sacramento and the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the officers improperly went into Dagdagan’s home without a warrant about two hours after the alleged assault on the girlfriend. There was no immediate emergency that would have exempted them from obtaining a warrant, the courts ruled.
“It was a flagrant violation of his constitutional rights,” Alfert said.
Dagdagan, 62, had worked as a machinist at an oil refinery. He is now permanently disabled, walks with a limp, has weakness and pain in his extremities, and must take many painkillers each day, his attorney said.
The city will pay for the settlement through its insurance, Alfert said.
Both Wentz and Boyd are now Richmond police officers.