After seeing allegedly “lost” video evidence air during an ABC15 investigative report, a man who was tasered while handcuffed is planning to file a lawsuit against the Superior Police Department.
The station also obtained an undisclosed police report that shows the key arresting officer made a series of clearly false statements about the arrest and use of force.
An attorney for Aaron Maughan filed a notice of claim against the town August 10, 2020.
The settlement demand, which is required before a lawsuit can be filed, targets the actions of police officers Christian Ensley and Brett Marsden.
“As Marsden secured the handcuffs on Maughan’s wrists, Ensley unholstered his taser. Marsden handcuffed Maughan, and said, “He’s good.” Maughan was in handcuffs and completely subdued. Ensley started yelling at Maughan to roll over onto his back. Maughan could not move because Marsden was sitting on his back. Ensley tased Maughan,” according to the claim. “Tasing a subdued handcuffed subject was unnecessary and excessive and amounts to the crime of aggravated assault by Ensley abetted by Marsden. “
[WARNING: The video below contains police violence and graphic language]
Police were searching for Maughan because he refused to stop for Superior officers after a traffic violation the night before.
He was able to elude officers in an off-road pursuit in nearby hills and mountains.
Officers Ensley and Marsden found him sleeping outside a small convenience store the next morning.
Maughan pleaded guilty to charges for fleeing and spent two years in prison. But a year into his sentence, Superior decided to file new charges for resisting arrest from the same incident.
The notice of claim was filed one business day after ABC15 aired an investigation into the many troubled officers who worked inside Superior Police.
Journalists obtained two body camera videos of Maughan’s March 11, 2017 arrest via a public record request last year.
ABC15 aired portions of both videos on-air and posted one online in full.
When Maughan’s defense attorneys attempted to obtain the videos as part of the new criminal case, they were told they no longer existed.
“Superior Police Department officials, presumably Ensley, told the prosecutor that there was no (body camera footage) because the ‘disk had crashed.’ From our prior dealings with the Superior Police Department, we know that all OBC is stored on two separate servers that mirror each other, according to the notice of claim written by Maughan’s attorney. “We also checked the Town of Superior City Council minutes for last year and found no indication that the SPD ever reported the disk crashed or sought funds to repair or replace the disk drive. We believe SPD has the OBC or has access to it, but fully intend to investigate this issue when we litigate this case.”
The notice of claim also states that Maughan and his attorneys received no police reports that documented the officers’ use of force or taser.
But ABC15 obtained an apparently undisclosed police report authored by Ensley that shows he wrote a series of false statements about the facts of the arrest and his use of force.
Ensley claimed they struggled with Maughan for “a few minutes” and that they weren’t able to handcuff him until after he tasered him.
Both statements are clearly false.
Maughan was approached and handcuffed within 35 seconds. The taser was also deployed after he was handcuffed and Officer Marsden told Ensley that Maughan was “good,” meaning handcuffed.
Ensley has had a long and troubled law enforcement career. He’s worked in at least six departments either failing to meet standards, resigning under investigation, or getting fired.
Ensley's report also doesn’t document how he threatened a bystander, who told officers to stop using excessive force.
The additional charges against Maughan were dropped days before ABC15’s report.
“Apparently, the sudden emergence of the video also changed the Pinal County Attorney’s view of the case. Last week, after ABC15 sought comment from the Pinal County Attorney’s Office about its story, all the charges against Maughan were dismissed,” the notice of claim said.
Maughan’s attorney, Martin Bihn, told ABC15 they have asked the FBI Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the incident.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.