Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 23, 2013
WINSTON-SALEM — Jurors spent most of this morning watching video shot from in-car cameras of arrests involving former Salisbury Police officer Kareem Puranda.
And a Salisbury police officer testified that at least one of them showed what he considers an inappropriate use of force.
U.S. Attorney Graham Green tried to lay the foundation for claims of excessive force used in Puranda’s arrests. More evidence is expected to come this afternoon.
Puranda is on trial for a pair of arrests in 2009 in which the people arrested say they were injured. He’s charged with violating their constitutional rights by using excessive force.
Six witnesses took the stand this morning, including three men — Wayne Partee, Robin Otto Worth and Eric Williams — who testified that traffic stops or other run-ins with Puranda led to the hospital.
Green showed the court video from two incidents.
The first, of Partee, showed Puranda hoisting the larger Partee over his head and slamming him to the ground during a stop that later led to a drug seizure.
Partee is not listed as a victim in the federal indictment.
But Green did show dash-cam footage of Puranda punching Eric Williams in the face.
Puranda’s attorney, Chris Fialko of Charlotte, has argued Puranda thought Williams was fleeing and that in each of the instances, the suspects were resisting arrest.
“Policemen across our country have a dangerous job,” Fialko said during his opening statement. “One of the more dangerous situations is when a suspect is on the run. These are uncertain moments.”
Still, Green has placed several current and former Salisbury officers on the stand, including Lt. Andy Efird, Officer Ronald Foster and former longtime officer Mark Shue in an apparent attempt to show a concerning nature about Puranda’s tenure in Salisbury.
Foster, who watched the video of Williams’ blow to the head, told the court he thought the use of force was inappropriate.
“It’s not something that I would have done,” he said.
Puranda is on trial for incidents involving Williams and Worth.
Worth, who ran from officers during a stop in June 2009 and was later caught in a nearby laundromat, said Puranda “had his way with me” when Puranda caught him in the business.
“They could tell it was a messed up situation,” Worth said of the other officers on the scene who stunned him with a Taser and restrained him.
Green then showed Worth a photo of his bloodied face after the incident.
“Can you describe this photo for me?” he asked.
“It looks like somebody that got beat with an ugly stick,” Worth responded, noting that he recognized the photo as himself following the arrest.