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Man sues Scottsdale police for use of force during traffic stop

Andy Dominguez
Posted at 9:08 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 00:09:42-04

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — The City of Scottsdale is defending itself against a civil rights lawsuit after a 2020 traffic stop that should have resulted in a simple traffic ticket escalated to a violent beating.

Andy Dominguez, 46, of Tempe, filed the lawsuit in January. He had dropped something off at one jobsite and was in a hurry to get to another job when Scottsdale Police officer Daniel Koller pulled him over.

Koller claimed Andy had "appeared" to be evading officers with his driving before the traffic stop.

"I saw you when I made a U-turn," Dominguez told Officer Koller, which was captured on his bodycam during the January 2020 stop. "I know I didn’t break any laws."

"You know that you didn’t break any laws?" Koller responded. "So you’re saying that I’m violating your rights now?"

"I noticed that he was trying to provoke me," Dominguez told ABC15.

Dominguez got out his license and insurance card and explained that he worked as an armed security guard, but he had no weapons in the car.

"You are a security guard, but you have an attitude toward the police?" Koller said. "But you have almost the same job as we do."

"You better lose your attitude, okay," Dominguez said.

Officer Koller then repeatedly told Dominguez to get out of the car. Dominguez, with his hands up, argued that the officer did not have the right and did not get out.

"Mother [expletive], get out of the [expletive] car right now," Officer Koller is heard yelling on the police bodycam audio. "I am going to hurt you if you don't get out of the car right now."

"You keep hitting me," Dominguez said on the video. "Oh my God!"

Officer Koller repeatedly hit Dominguez in the head and chest. the officer then pulled him from the driver's seat as a second officer pushed from behind.

Dominguez said his nose was broken. He was bruised and bleeding from the face. He called on bystanders to intervene, but no one did.

"I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to get totally beat," Dominguez said. "So, I put my hands in front of my face and try to cover."

Officer Koller threw Dominguez to the ground. The other officer kneeled on his leg.

"The level of force is, is completely outrageous," said Jesse Showalter, Dominguez's attorney. "To see him lifted up, body-slammed while he's holding his insurance card, it just screams out that this is wrong."

Dominguez filed a federal lawsuit alleging assault and battery from the officers. According to the lawsuit, they also used excessive force and didn't have probable cause to arrest Dominguez.

He is also suing the city of Scottsdale for being negligent in training.

"My safety is number one, man," Officer Koller said.

Dominguez was taken to the hospital and later charged with multiple crimes, including resisting arrest. His lawyer said that's not unusual in these situations.

"When officers use force like this, they charged the individual they use force against with resisting arrest or assaulting an officer, and then that person has to fight these charges," Showalter said.

Ultimately, the prosecutor dropped the entire criminal case against Dominguez. However, he did get a traffic ticket.

He's still experiencing other consequences because armed security guards face strict state licensing rules.

"They suspended my guard card, and I lost my job," Dominguez said.

Dominguez thinks Officer Koller also needs a job change.

"That man should not be a police officer on the streets of Scottsdale or anywhere," Dominguez said.

Officer Koller is still on the city payroll. While Koller was counseled about his "unprofessional language and tone," the police departments found both officers' use of force was "reasonable" based on the "totality of circumstances," according to a city spokesman.