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Friday, Sep 30, 2016
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Deaf man sues Tampa officers, claiming excessive force

A deaf man this week filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against four Tampa police officers, saying they used excessive force when they dragged him outside an Ybor City nightclub, threw him into a bench and repeatedly punched and kicked him. One of the officers was undercover, so Jacob P. Cowie didn't know at first he was being subdued by police, said his attorney Michael Maddux. Furthermore, he said, his client is deaf and didn't hear whether the officers had identified themselves. The incident occurred on Feb. 7, 2010, outside Gaspar's Grotto on Seventh Avenue. Maddux said the conflagration was over something that happened inside the bar. Ultimately, Cowie was not taken to jail, but given a notice to appear in misdemeanor court on a charge of disorderly conduct. Court records show the charge eventually was dropped.
"There were four officers involved," Maddux said. "The undercover officer grabbed our client, slung him into a bench and really hurt him before other officers jumped on him." The officers named in the suit are: Joseph J. Reese, Gregory J. Pryor, Jayson G. Uriarte and John R. Gustafson. The incident was investigated by internal affairs, which cleared the officers of the excessive force allegations. Tampa police declined to comment on the lawsuit. "We don't comment on pending litigation," said department spokeswoman Andrea Davis. The lawsuit says that in addition to the punching and kicking, the officers repeatedly used a stun gun to subdue Cowie, who required surgery to repair damage to his left shoulder. He also suffered fractured bones around his eye. Maddux is seeking compensatory and punitive damages and a jury trial

kmorelli@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7760