A federal judge is allowing an excessive force lawsuit against the Bozeman Police Department and the city of Bozeman to move forward.

However, as part of his order, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen dismissed more than half of the counts alleged against the city and the police department.

Soheil Jesse Verdi filed a lawsuit in 2009 against the city of Bozeman, the Bozeman Police Department, Sgt. Greg Megargel, officer Marek Ziegler, former police Chief Mark Tymrak and former Deputy Chief Martin Kent.

The suit stems from a 2007 incident in which Verdi was tased by police. A friend of Verdi's called Bozeman police requesting a welfare check on Verdi. Megargel and Ziegler responded.

Verdi was naked and intoxicated when he answered the door. Officers claimed Verdi suddenly attacked Megargel and Ziegler tased Verdi in the back.

Verdi fell face down onto his deck outside of the apartment, hitting his head and causing injuries to his skull. Verdi's attorneys claim he has had three brain surgeries to remove excessive blood on his brain and to help remedy his headaches.

In an order filed in U.S. District Court in Butte on Monday, Christensen dismissed counts brought against the city and its police department of excessive force, spoliation of evidence, negligent hiring and training, conspiracy and civil rights violations in the 2009 lawsuit.

Christensen allowed counts of negligence, assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among others, to move forward.

Christensen also dismissed Verdi's request for punitive damages from Bozeman and the police department.

All counts against Tymrak and Kent were dismissed by Christensen, as were all but the excessive force count against Ziegler and Megargel.

In his order, Christensen said despite Verdi's claims that there was no investigation into the tasing, there has been evidence to the contrary.

“Although the investigation was not as detailed or thorough as (Verdi) would have preferred, the facts show that a satisfactory investigation did occur,” Christensen wrote.

Christensen also denied Verdi's allegations that Megargel and Ziegler had a lack of Taser training.

However, Christensen said Megargel and Ziegler's request to dismiss the count of excessive force was denied because Verdi's tasing was not reasonable.

A disputed fact in the case was whether Verdi lunged at the officers after he opened his apartment door. Verdi's attorneys argue he was too intoxicated to lunge at the officers and didn't pose a threat, thus making their use of a Taser on him unreasonable.

Christensen agreed, noting that Verdi was naked and unarmed, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.291, did not resist or try to evade arrest and was never charged with a crime.

Verdi's attorney Todd Shea had no comment on the order.

No trial date has been set in the case.

Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.



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