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Man files suit against DEA, Nampa police, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office alleging excessive force

A man seeking compensation filed a civil suit, alleging an unlawful detainment and excessive force toward a disabled person as unlawfully seizing $30,000 in cash.
Nampa police

GREENLEAF, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

A man seeking compensation filed a civil suit on May 12 in the Idaho District Court against the Nampa Police Department, Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, and Drug Enforcement Administration, alleging an unlawful detainment and excessive force toward a disabled person as well as unlawfully seizing $30,000 in cash.

The claim, filed by Paul Lietz, one of the plaintiffs, alleges that in May 2020, Nampa police, the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office and the DEA served a search warrant at his residence in Greenleaf. According to court records, Lietz was never charged, and the claim said police did not find drugs.

The DEA and Canyon County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment because it involved ongoing litigation. The Nampa Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The claim alleges that officers knew Lietz and others involved had disabilities, but detained Lietz and others anyway, telling them to get down on the ground when they could not do so.

“Law enforcement forced or tried to force them down thereby sustaining Lietz and Ouch (another plaintiff) injuries due to the necessary, unreasonable and excessive force being applied by the police,” the claim said.

Lietz suffered injuries to his wrist, elbow, hip and two tears to his labrum, which the claim said he did not have prior to the detainment.

The claim said the officers also restrained a juvenile in the home and pointed their weapons at her.

Officers also acted outside the scope of their search warrant, according to the claim, which stated that the DEA did not announce who they were before entering the home and the warrant was only authorized for law enforcement to search four cars. In addition to the four cars, officers searched four others, as well as a trailer and a boat, the claim said.

The suit said that officers damaged many things throughout the home, including two windows, two doors, and two cabinets.

The suit states Lietz, according to the First Amendment, has a right to record law enforcement, but when he attached a recording device to the front of his shirt, the claim said, an officer seized the device and threw it across the fireplace mantle. When they seized it, one of the officers replied, “You don’t need that, you cannot record us,” the claim said.

A police report by Special Agent Brandon Poggi said that Lietz was not keeping his hands within view, so officers turned Lietz and attempted to put him on the ground. 

Lietz had a home security system that recorded the incident, but police disconnected the cameras, and seized and deleted all footage, the claim said, alleging destruction of evidence.

The DEA and accompanying officers seized $30,000 that Lietz had from his mother’s estate, according to the claim, but did not verify the property with the owner, which is a violation of Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures, the claim said. The suit said law enforcement also had no probable cause to seize the money.

“DEA did not inquire about anything of value with the occupants,” the claim said. “DEA did not allow the occupants to be present when they found valuable property and U.S. currency.”

Additionally, the claim said, Lietz demanded a copy of the search warrant and was never given one. In the police report, Poggi said that Lietz was shown a copy of the warrant.

Lietz was taken to the Nampa Police Department after he was detained, where he was read his Miranda rights. The claim said law enforcement did not have any probable cause to detain and transport Lietz to the station. In the report by Poggi, he said Lietz was told he was not under arrest. Law enforcement asked if Lietz would be willing to be transported to the station, the police report said, and Lietz agreed.

The claim said when Lietz arrived at the station, he asked if he was being charged, and DEA Special Agent Dustin Bloxham told him “Not today, no.”

Lietz went to leave and was detained by Bloxham, who allegedly shut the door that Lietz tried to open, the suit said, because Bloxham said Lietz needed an escort to leave the building.

The claim also said Lietz was detained by two Nampa police officers, who he said assaulted him in the interrogation room by grabbing his arms and refusing to let him leave.

According to a use of force report filed by Nampa police, Lietz told the officers, “get the (expletive) out of my way,” and slapped the officers’ hands away from him. The officers pushed Lietz back and he was later released.

The suit said that officers also refused to allow Lietz to use the restroom or take prescribed medication.

Lietz is seeking compensation for damages, attorney fees and $500,000.

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com

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