By Susan Jacobson, Orlando Sentinel
8:02 p.m. EDT, July 3, 2013
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has paid $100,000 to two men who were roughed up last year during a traffic stop recorded on a deputy’s dash-cam video, authorities said.
The injuries to Channing Byrd and Robert Wilds of Sanford were more psychological than physical, although Wilds has scars on his abdomen where Taser prongs were fired into him, the men’s attorney, Shayan Modarres, said Wednesday.
“Mr. Wilds and Byrd were in imminent fear of being shot and killed,” states a federal civil-rights lawsuit that the men filed against the Sheriff’s Office.
Byrd and Wilds, both now 30, were on U.S. Highway 17-92 in Sanford May 19, 2012 when deputies Christopher Clutter and Erik Ducharme pulled them over, claiming the men were not wearing seat belts.
Clutter yelled and cussed at Wilds and drew a shotgun and a Taser at the same time, shocking Wilds with the stun gun without warning, the lawsuit alleged. Another deputy, Paul Pratt, dragged Byrd from the car.
Clutter falsely stated that the driver would not stop immediately, and Ducharme backed him up in a report without witnessing the incident, a sheriff’s internal investigation concluded.
A sergeant and a lieutenant signed off on the deputies’ version of events without reviewing the video, according to the lawsuit.
Sheriff Don Eslinger fired Clutter and Ducharme Oct. 29. Pratt remains on the force.
Wilds was arrested on a charge of resisting an officer with violence. Byrd was arrested on a charge of resisting without violence. Charges were dropped in September. Tickets on the alleged seat-belt violations also were dismissed.
Wilds and Byrd filed the lawsuit Nov. 29 and settled last month. Claims included excessive-force violations, and false arrest and imprisonment.
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