ARGO – An Oneonta man is suing the City of Argo and one of its police officers in an excessive force case stemming from a 2014 traffic stop.
The lawsuit was filed by Birmingham attorney Gregory Yaghmai on behalf of his client Bob Glasscox, 70, of Oneonta, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.
The lawsuit alleges that Argo Police Officer David Ramsey Moses used excessive force against Glasscox, who apparently suffered a diabetic episode while driving on Interstate 59.
“On July 24, 2014, Mr. Glasscox was driving when he suffered from a sudden spike in his blood sugar, thereby sending him into a diabetic shock,” Yaghmai wrote in the lawsuit, which was filed Aug. 27 in U.S. District Court. “Mr. Glasscox, who was not aware of his actions at the time, was driving erratically down I-59 South when he was apprehended by Defendant Officer Moses.”
The lawsuit states that Moses chased the defendant for several miles before Glasscox drove off the highway and into the grass median where he came to a stop.
“Officer Moses ran over to Mr. Glasscox’s vehicle, opened the door and yelled for Mr. Glasscox to exit the vehicle,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Glasscox, in a diabetic shock and unable to fully understand his surroundings, remained silent while Officer Moses continued to yell and scream profanities at him. Thereafter, Mr. Glasscox removed his seatbelt and told Officer Moses to ‘shut up.’
“Officer Moses then employed a TASER on Mr. Glasscox for a five-second period,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Glasscox remained in his vehicle, screaming and writhing in pain. Officer Mosses employed the TASER an additional three times, for a total number of four tases in a 39-second period. During this period of tasing, Mr. Glasscox was unable to do anything but scream, plead and writhe in pain.”
The lawsuit alleges that Moses violated policy by tasing the 69-year-old man in excess of three times.
The lawsuit states that Glasscox was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where he was examined.
“A medical note authored by a medical doctor on Mr. Glasscox’s discharged sheet states that, ‘patient had low blood sugar which led to his symptoms,’” the lawsuit states. “… At no time did Mr. Glasscox do anything to warrant the use of force against him. He was not responsive when Officer Moses found him, and did not make any threat or otherwise act in a way that would justify such force.”
In a sworn statement in the criminal case against Glasscox, Moses stated that when Glasscox eventually stopped in the median, he got out of his police vehicle and ran toward the Nissan Pickup truck Glasscox was driving, “to take the driver into custody before he could pull back out onto I-59 South traveling the wrong way, which would have resulted in a fatality traffic accident for anyone who could have come in contact with the listed vehicle during rush hour traffic …
“I drew my duty weapon and opened the driver side door and yelled for the driver to get out,” Moses said in his typed statement. “The driver did not comply even at gun point. I ordered him to take his seatbelt off and get out. The driver took his seatbelt off and flung it to the side. He still did not comply with my order to get out of the listed vehicle. The driver leaned towards the passenger side of the listed vehicle and his right hand dipped towards the floor board out of my sight.
“Due to the suspect’s attempt to elude law enforcement, reckless disregard for everyone on the roadway, failure to comply with my lawful order to exit the listed vehicle, violent reaction to my commands and know his right hand reaching for an unknown item, a taser was employed to de-escalate the situation from its deadly force situation.”
Officer Moses speaks out
Moses was contacted Tuesday for comment about the lawsuit filed against him and the city. Through Facebook, he said he had not seen a copy of the lawsuit, but knew it was coming.
“They filed notice of intent to sue before (Glasscox was) found guilty,” he said.
Moses said the defendant was found guilty in Argo Municipal Court on all charges.
Glasscox was charged with eluding police, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
Yaghmai, who is also Glasscox’s attorney in the criminal proceedings, said his client has technically not been found guilty because a notice of appeal to Jefferson County Circuit Court was filed. He said the criminal case is set to be heard in Jefferson County on Nov. 16.
“Before my client ever had a lawyer, Argo offered to drop three charges if Mr. Glasscox signed a released of any civil lawsuit,” Yaghmai said.
Moses said Tuesday the entire incident was on video, as well a copy of his report, which he said was available from the city.
Argo Mayor Paul Jennings said after last week’s council meeting that he would not make any comments about the matter.
Argo police Chief James Downing did not return repeated calls for comment on Monday, and he was not available on Tuesday.
Argo City Attorney Hugh Holladay said Tuesday that he had read the lawsuit, but the city has turned the matter over to another legal firm.
Jennings told the council last week that the attorney for the city’s insurance gave the city notice of receipt of the lawsuit.
“Officer Moses clearly has anger issues and is a danger to the public,” Yaghmai said. “By filing this suit, we hope to prevent future misconduct against the public, including our client, an elderly man with serious health issues and no criminal history.”