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A Southern California man who said he was just trying to help his father details an alleged attack by LA County deputies during which his genitals were burned by a Taser as his mother watched in horror. Gadi Schwartz reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014.
A Southern California man is accusing Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in a federal civil rights lawsuit of attacking him and using a Taser on his genitals while his mother watched.
Daniel Johnson, 26, filed the lawsuit in January against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after deputies allegedly threw him to the ground and attacked him for asking if he could pick up his father's cigarette to avoid a fine.
Johnson was cooking dinner at his mother's Altadena home on Dec. 26, 2012, when a man knocked on the door to tell Johnson his father was being ticketed outside for putting out a cigarette on the ground, according to the filed complaint.
The complaint describes Johnson's father as a 58-year-old disabled man who walks with a cane and often drops things because of nerve damage in his hands.
LA Sheriff's "Deputy Abdulfattah," as named in the complaint, explained to Johnson he was giving his father a $1,000 ticket and community service for littering.
Johnson offered to pick the cigarette up from the ground, when Abdulfattah told Johnson, "I can write you a ticket too if you want," according to the complaint.
"I asked if it would be possible for me to just pick it up," Johnson told NBC4. "We don't have $1,000 to pay that ticket."
Johnson's mother came outside as Johnson began to walk away, until the other deputy, named in the complaint as "Deputy Russell," allegedly grabbed Johnson from behind and tried to slam him against the patrol car and into a concrete post, the complaint states.
Johnson's parents asked the deputies to "leave him alone" because he "hasn't done anything wrong."
Russell, according to the complaint, allegedly put Johnson in a "full nelson hold" with his arms under Johnson's armpits and hand behind Johnson's head.
At the same time Russell then allegedly took Johnson to the ground, Abdulfattah allegedly hit Johnson's father in the face, according to the complaint.
While Johnson was held to the ground by Russell, Abdulfattah used a Taser on Johnson's genitals multiple times, the complaint stated.
"He was definitely point blank," Johnson said. "He was right above me as he Tased me, so there's no mistake that he was trying to Tase me in my genitalia."
His mother said the deputy stared at her while she screamed.
"He's looking directly at me every time he pulls that trigger, and at one point my son says, 'Mom, I'm OK," Johnson's mother, Rose Gonzales, told NBC4. "So at that point, I realize this guy is doing this because I am reacting."
Johnson could "smell his flesh burning from the tases" and was screaming in pain, according to the complaint.
Johnson told NBC4 he begged the deputies to stop and repeatedly told them he was not resisting. He was eventually arrested for battery on a police officer, though he maintains in the complaint he never engaged in any physical contact with the deputies.
Abdulfattah allegedly told Johnson to "shut up" when Johnson said his father needed his inhaler, the complaint stated.
LA County Sheriff's Department officials would not comment on the case except to describe one of the deputies in question as "the best deputy in the division."
Johnson, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley with no criminal history, said the battery charges were never filed and the case was dropped. He said he just hopes audio recordings or video exist of the confrontation.
"When there's nothing to verify what actually happened, it becomes a state where it's their word versus ours," Johnson said.