Suit against cops moves forward By Karen White / Senior Times Writer 5-30-2001 SANTA MARIA — A settlement discussion failed Tuesday, prompting a Santa Maria Superior Court judge to set an Aug. 12 trial date on a civil rights lawsuit involving Santa Maria police. Santa Marian Mark Castro, a paraplegic since 1985, has charged the Santa Maria police and the city with violating his civil rights by using excessive force, unlawful search and seizure, assault and battery and false arrest and imprisonment. Tuesday morning, Judge Rodney Melville said attempts to settle the case can go forward, but he would plan the trial unless the attorneys contact him to change those plans. Attorney Catherine J. Swysen of Santa Barbara is representing Castro. The City of Santa Maria and the officers are being represented by attorney Bruce D. Praet of Santa Ana. The suit, filed Feb. 3, 2000, charges officers Gary Steigler and Norman Com with violations of Castro’s civil rights in connection with a 2:50 p.m. July 3, 1999 traffic stop. Castro claims that at the time of the traffic stop on Miller Street, he told police he needed a wheelchair to get around and did not have it in his vehicle. Castro was stopped for a traffic violation and later his vehicle was seized. Castro claims police pulled him out of the vehicle, injuring him when he landed on the asphalt. The two officers then allegedly kicked and pushed Castro, leaving him sitting on a curb. He then had to wait approximately 30 minutes before being picked up by his mother. :nav Source: http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2001/05/30/news/export2599.txt

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