PORTLAND, Maine — A Saco man is suing the Portland Police Department and several individuals therein for a 2013 incident in which he said officers used excessive force against him.
Steven Tuggle said in his lawsuit that police were called to break up an argument between his girlfriend and her brother after the three of them left a Portland sports bar on the evening of Feb. 25, 2013.
Tuggle — the chef and part owner of Portland restaurant Taco Escobarr at the time — said in his complaint that he nonviolently questioned the police officers’ response to the situation, and they responded by punching, restraining and elbowing him, among other attacks.
The man’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, claims he suffered fractured ribs and nerve damage to his left wrist and hand as a result of the incident.
William Bly, a Biddeford attorney representing Tuggle, said Wednesday afternoon through his secretary that he would not answer questions about the case.
Representatives of the city of Portland, including lead attorney Danielle West-Chuhta, did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
Tuggle names the Portland Police Department, Chief Michael Sauschuck and the three officers who handled the incident in his lawsuit.
He is seeking compensatory damages to offset medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the altercation, as well as punitive damages and attorney’s fees.
In his lawsuit, Tuggle alleges that two of the responding officers “threw or pushed” his girlfriend to the ground and began restraining her in response to the verbal argument she was having with her brother.
He claimed that when he told the officers that wasn’t necessary, he was shoved, punched and restrained himself, suffering “repeated elbow strikes into his ribcage as he was handcuffed.”
Tuggle alleged that officers then hit his head on metal while pushing him into the back of the cruiser, and that they slammed the vehicle door onto his legs.
The lawsuit also claims police kept the handcuffs too tight on him, and left his hands cuffed behind him when he complained about back pain and they placed him on a backboard, thus applying additional tension to his hands and wrists.
The police charged Tuggle with refusing to submit to arrest at the time, but according to the lawsuit, the charge “was baseless” and the district attorney’s office later dismissed it.