DODGE CITY — A Ford County resident involved in a Feb. 14, 2018, traffic stop in Dodge City filed a federal civil rights lawsuit this month against the Ford County sheriff, the Board of Commissioners of Ford County, and Bryan Stammer, an employee in the Ford County Sheriff's Office.
Oyun Antonio Vega is seeking damages in excess of $75,000 and a jury trial.
According to Vega’s complaint, he was the driver of a vehicle stopped by Bryan Stammer on suspicion of having committed a traffic violation.
Vega said he was on edge when he saw Stammer get out of the patrol car because Vega was still within a period of supervision under a diversion/deferred prosecution agreement involving felony drug charges where Stammer was the arresting officer. The stop occurred early in the morning and Vega had been working and was anxious, the suit states. Also, there was a “small amount of marijuana in plaintiff’s vehicle,” the complaint said.
Vega has a history of medical treatment for physical and mental health ailments, the suit said, and he was in a “bad mental cycle.”
Vega asserts he told Stammer he felt uncomfortable in the situation, and informed him there was a firearm in a bag in the vehicle and that he needed to call his lawyer. The lawyer was not available.
Vega did not comply with Stammer’s instructions to provide a license, registration and insurance documents because he did not want to be perceived as trying to draw a weapon, he said. He rolled up the window, the complaint said.
Stammer called for backup and a team of officers from the Ford County Sheriff's Office and Dodge City Police Department arrived.
Vega claims they “smashed out his car driver’s side window and violently and forcibly extracted” him from the vehicle. He said he was physically hurt and “his already fragile state became more agitated.” He was placed under arrest for interference with law enforcement and handcuffed. He became “terrified of the whole ordeal, the show of force, and the flashing lights.” He “suffered a mental break” and tried to run away, his hands handcuffed behind his back, the complaint said.
A deputy who grabbed Vega lost his balance and fell into the parked vehicle.
“Multiple body-cam images show what happened next: Deputy Stammer clearly and unnecessarily slammed plaintiff’s head down on the trunk of a parked patrol vehicle — multiple cameras recorded the loud ‘thunk’ that resulted as well as plaintiff’s expression of pain," the complaint stated. Vega “suffered significant damages including but not limited to mental anguish, permanent bodily injury, and loss of enjoyment of life,” according to the complaint.
The compliant alleges Stammer’s “illegal conduct was a product of the Sheriff's’ failure to train, as well as the Sheriff custom and policy and the Sheriff’s Office, and by extension Ford County, Kansas are therefore liable."
The News was unable to reach Vega’s attorney, Peter J. Antosh of Garcia & Antosh LLP, Dodge City, on Monday afternoon.
Ford County Counselor Glenn Kerbs said his office had no knowledge of the suit filed Sept. 12. Kerbs said Stammer currently is a patrol sergeant in the Ford County Sheriff's Office.