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Friday, March 06, 2009

'Aggressive' stance by man before he was Tasered: officer

Here we go again: Under cross-examination, Cirillo, Priddle and Tallevi all agreed their INDIVIDUAL NOTES from the Dec. 2003 incident MADE NO MENTION of Parsons hanging out of the Jeep's window

March 6, 2009

On a road illuminated only by the lights of police cruisers, Const. James Tallevi says he assumed an item clutched in the hand of Michael Parsons was a weapon.

Tallevi said Parsons was "ranting," "raving" and "yelling" next to a Jeep that had been pulled over by police in another cruiser on Dec. 18, 2003.

"He turned and I noticed he had an object in his hand," Tallevi testified in Welland Superior Court Thursday. "He was concealing a silver object by his right hip in his right hand."

Parsons was standing with his left foot forward and right foot back, Tallevi testified.

He said Parsons had his left hand close to his face in a fist while the right hand was down.

"To me, anyone taking a stance like that, it's an aggressive stance," Tallevi said.

Parsons, who is suing Niagara Regional Police and individual officers for excessive force, ended up in a struggle with Tallevi that each man gave very different versions of in court this week.

Tallevi is one of five officers named in Parsons' $50,000 lawsuit for negligence, false arrest, assault, malicious prosecution and breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Co-defendants Michael Woodfine, Dino Cirillo, Todd Priddle and Darrin Forbes also testified as the defence completed its evidence Thursday.

NRP lawyer Terry Marshall and Parsons' lawyer Margaret Hoy will make their closing arguments in front of Judge Raymond Harris on Monday.

The court heard Parsons testify earlier that the Jeep, driven by his fiancee, was pulled over on Lundy's Lane in Niagara Falls shortly after Parsons yelled "Hey Baby" out the window at Priddle. Priddle was with a group of officers investigating another vehicle.

After the Jeep was stopped, Parsons said he remained in the passenger seat trying to call his lawyer on a cellphone when Tallevi reached through the window and pulled the phone out of his hands.

He said he saw an officer snap the phone in half and was then pulled out of the Jeep. Parsons said he was put in a choke hold by Tallevi and Tasered by an unknown officer or officers 10 to 15 times.

But Tallevi testified he arrived on scene after Woodfine and Forbes and saw Parsons jump out of the passenger seat, yelling and ranting with an object in his right hand.

When Tallevi approached asking what the object was, he said Parsons pushed him with his left hand. Tallevi said he then grabbed Parsons' right hand thinking there was a weapon and the two fell into a ditch.

"We slid down the hill. I remember going down my back," Tallevi said. "When we stopped, he was on top of me and I was hanging onto his arm."

Tallevi said he heard Woodfine scream "stop resisting" and "Taser."

"(Parsons) was fighting. He was pulling his arms, fighting. To be fair, I think we were both shocked, sliding down a hill."

Tallevi said he heard the electrical shock of the Taser being applied and heard Parsons scream.

But he said Parsons struggle and he heard him get Tasered two more times.

Woodbine testified earlier that he deployed the Taser three times.

Tallevi said Priddle later picked up an object and showed him it was a silver cellphone.

Tallevi denied under cross-examination that he pulled Parsons out of the vehicle. "That's either badly mistaken or a lie," he told Hoy.

He also denied he put Parsons in a choke hold.

Tallevi, Priddle and Cirillo said they saw Parsons hanging out the window of the Jeep and that's why he was stopped, not because of Parsons' claim that it was retaliation for insulting Priddle.

Tallevi said he was finishing up at a traffic stop when he saw a white Jeep Cherokee drive by and heard someone yell, swearing at Priddle.

"I saw a male hanging out of a passenger window, almost to his waist," Tallevi said, adding he heard Priddle say it was Parsons.

Cirillo also testified he was at the traffic stop and heard someone yell, catching his attention. "I saw a male hanging out the window with his arm in the air. His upper body was hanging out the window."

Priddle, also at the stop, said Parsons was far enough out the window that his head was above the vehicle, calling it "bizarre," "unique," "disturbing" and "suspicious" behaviour.

Under cross-examination, Cirillo, Priddle and Tallevi all agreed their individual notes from the Dec. 2003 incident made no mention of Parsons hanging out of the Jeep's window.

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