Brad Hulett three months ago boarded a bus in Syracuse, New York, and remained standing. When he refused to sit, citing a back injury making it painful to do so, the police were called, leading to an escalated situation where Hulett was shot with a stun gun and dragged on the pavement from the bus.
Video of the incident shows officers ordering Hulett off the bus. Hulett refuses because he paid his fare. Then an officer lifts Hulett’s shirt, warns him that he’s about to be shot with the electrifying gun, and fires. Hulett cries out in pain and is then dragged off the bus where he is then shot with the stun gun again.
As a result, the Post-Standard reported medical records showing the 35-year-old broke his left hip and received surgery in May, as evidenced by a seven-inch scar.
Hulett filed papers to sue the city of Syracuse, Centro (Central New York Regional Transportation Authority) and Onondaga County for his treatment on the bus and then at the jail where he had to walk through a metal detector — twice — without a wheelchair on his injured hip.
The Post-Standard reported a video from the jail showing Hulett falling into a deputy’s arms when he tried to stand. Hulett was kept in a jail cell over night with his broken hip.
Watch WSYR-TV’s report about the case involving the alleged use of excessive force and discrimination:
In a statement, the bus driver said he requested Hulett sit or get off the bus because he didn’t feel it was “safe to move the bus with this person standing.” But the Post-Standard pointed out that the video on the bus shows another passenger standing in the same area where Hulett had been while the bus was in motion.
Here’s what Centro’s spokesperson said of this incident:
Centro spokesman Steve Koegel said he also couldn’t comment on Hulett’s claims because of the pending litigation. But he did respond generally.
“Centro drivers are trained to constantly assess passenger safety and take action where they feel passenger safety may be a concern,” Koegel wrote in an email. “This includes requesting passengers to sit when seats are available.”
When police arrived Hulett, in his lawsuit against the city, transportation authority and county, stated that he wasn’t warned of the potential for being arrested when he refused to get off the bus.
The report filed with Centro stated that officers told Hulett he would be charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and Syracuse’s police report too states that officers warned him of the potential for arrest before using stun gun on him, the Post-Standard stated. But, the video doesn’t record evidence of these warnings, Hulett’s lawyer Rick Guy said.
From previous injuries sustained in his life, Hulett also feared for his heart while being shot with the stun gun and has brain damage affecting his left side after he was hit by two trains back-to-back in 1991.
New York Civil Liberties Union director Barrie Gewanter spoke out against the officers using such force on a man with neurological damage.
“I think it involves prejudice and lack of understanding against people with intellectual disabilities,” Gewanter said, according to WSYR-TV.
“A taser is not to be used as a compliance weapon. It’s supposed to be used only when there’s active aggression towards the officer or active resistance,” Gewanter continued.
Watch Gewanter share her thoughts about the incident:
Syracuse, the county and Centro would not comment on the incident citing the pending litigation.