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Black Man Tasered by Lancaster Police Files Lawsuit

Sean Williams, 27, is suing a Lancaster, Pennsylvania cop and the city’s police department after he was shot with a taser last Thursday while sitting on a curb waiting to be arrested. The civil rights lawsuit alleges that Officer Philip Bernot used excessive force and that Williams was racially profiled and received inadequate medical attention.

According to Lancaster Online, the suit was filed on Monday (July 2)  in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff is seeking “in excess of $75,000” in damages against the Lancaster City Bureau of Police and Officer Bernot, individually and as a cop.


The incident was captured on a Facebook video that has since gone viral. In it Bernot can be heard telling Williams, who was sitting on the curb when he arrived, to put his “legs straight out or you’re getting Tased.” Williams is seen putting his legs out but keeping them bent. Another officer warns Williams to straighten out his legs, or he will be hit with the stun gun. He is then shot with the taser after he pulls his legs back up to the curb.

He also claims he was taken into custody and not given medical attention for some hours.  In a statement, police said Williams’ refusal to cross his legs was a form of noncompliance and usually indicates that a subject is preparing to fight or flee the scene.

In the lawsuit, he said was “surprised” officers arrived and asked him to take a seat on the curb because “he had not done anything wrong.” He also alleges that he compiled “without” resisting.

The Lancaster County district attorney’s office said in a statement on Twitter Friday, “We are aware of (the Taser incident in Lancaster city), and have seen the video. The proper procedures are ongoing.”

Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.