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Eagle Point officers sued over Tasers deployed in creek

An Eagle Point police officer whose dropped stungun in a Carl’s Jr. in 2018 resulted in a $4.5 million wrongful death settlement is now the subject of a new federal civil rights lawsuit accusing him of deploying a Taser on a man who’d fallen face down into a creek in 2020.

Eagle Point police officer Daniel Cardenas is one of two officers named as defendants in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Medford by Jonathon Wolf alleging excessive force.

Wolf’s lawyer, David J. Linthorst, said the incident caused his client “ongoing symptoms of lung damage and brain injury.”

At about 7:20 p.m. June 21, 2020, Cardenas and another officer identified in the lawsuit as Lindsey Evertt stopped a vehicle in which Wolf was a passenger. Wolf at the time had “an outstanding warrant related to a parole violation for a nonviolent crime,” and fled the vehicle on foot, Linthorst stated in the lawsuit.

Jackson County Circuit Court records show prior felony drug convictions for Wolf.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday claims that Evertt found Wolf standing in a creek near a dense blackberry thicket while she was above the creek on a bank, began issuing threats and commands, and ultimately deployed her Taser. Cardenas also deployed his Taser from the creek bank, the lawsuit claims, but without warning and “without carefully aiming his Taser to target lower center mass to avoid the head.”

One of the Taser deployments lodged a prong into Wolf’s skull, which the lawsuit claims “immediately disabled” him and caused him to “fall face down in the water, striking his head and face on a rock.”

“As (Wolf) lay completely incapacitated, unconscious, floating in the contaminated water with his face completely submerged and a Taser prong buried in his brain, Defendant Cardenas shouted threats at Plaintiff’s lifeless body threatening to tase Plaintiff (Wolf) again if he moved,” Linthorst states.

Wolf’s face was fully submerged and his body was motionless for “a full minute” before Evertt pulled his face above the water. Wolf “started choking and was not able to respond to commands” or form words or move his body, the lawsuit claims.

Neither Eagle Point police’s website nor Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training records show a sworn Oregon officer under Evertt’s name, nor any record of sworn officers by names under similar spellings.

As of June 2022, however, Cardenas is still on the Eagle Point police force and was promoted to the rank of senior officer in 2021.

In 2018, Cardenas was deemed justified by a split grand jury in the shooting death of 33-year-old Matthew Thayer Graves inside an Eagle Point Carl’s Jr. bathroom, Mail Tribune archives show.

Graves was unarmed in the altercation that began with a traffic infraction. Leading up to the shooting, a physical altercation occurred between the officers and Graves. During the scuffle, Cardenas’ black Taser fell on the bathroom floor and was mistaken for a firearm.

The city settled a wrongful death civil suit with Graves’ family for $4.5 million. Linthorst was among lawyers who represented the Graves family.

The lawsuit filed June 21 alleges excessive force on the part of the officers, and alleges that the city of Eagle Point and the police department are negligent for providing inadequate use-of-force training, “inadequate training to eagle Point Police Department officers on the use of Tasers” and for “not removing officers from active duty who have committed violations of policy, used excessive force on individuals or committed crimes against individuals.”

The lawsuit seeks “economic and noneconomic damages” that include medical costs for physical injuries including a “Taser probe wound, head injury, brain injury, post-concussion symptoms, abrasions, contusions, scrapes, bruising, pneumonia, infection, lung damage as well as ongoing lung damage and brain injury,” plus costs, expenses and attorney fees.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.