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Woman Sues Police Officer and Chief for Failing to Report Taser Incident While She Was on the Ground

DENVER — Cristy Gonzales, who was shocked in the back with a Taser while lying on the ground in Pueblo, Colorado, is suing the police officer who stunned her and the city’s police chief. She accuses the police department of failing to report the excessive force used by the officer to state regulators.

The federal lawsuit filed by Gonzales states that the police department found Cpl. Bennie Villanueva used excessive force against Gonzales and another person, but did not report this information to a state board which oversees law enforcement qualifications. If reported, it could have led to Villanueva losing his certification to work as a police officer for at least a year, the lawsuit said.

Gonzales was suspected of stealing a truck in February 2022 and didn’t stop for Villanueva. Eventually, the vehicle ran out of gas. After she got out of the truck, Villanueva ordered her to get onto the ground and then deployed his Taser into her back. Gonzales continues to experience numbness and difficulty using her right hand since the Taser was used on her, according to the lawsuit.

The assistant district attorney who prosecuted the vehicle theft filed an excessive force complaint after seeing the video of Gonzales’ arrest, prompting an internal police investigation. Pueblo police Chief Chris Noeller issued a letter of reprimand against Villanueva for his conduct in the Gonzales case and for violating department policies in two other cases.

Each year, police departments are required to report to Colorado’s Peace Officer Standards and Training board whether their officers have had any “disqualifying incidents”, including a finding of excessive force, that would disqualify them from being certified to work as police officers in the state. The lawsuit claims the Pueblo Police Department did not report any such incidents for any of its officers in 2022.

“The Pueblo Police Department lied to the POST board, just plain and simple,” said Kevin Mehr, Gonzales‘ lawyer.

**Focus Keyword: police brutality lawsuit**

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