Courts & Crime

Tasered legless man now charged with assaulting wife

The legless man who garnered national attention after Merced police shocked him with a Taser was arrested this week on allegations that he assaulted his wife.

Gregory Williams, 41, turned himself in to law enforcement Tuesday after a felony domestic violence warrant was issued for his arrest, for an incident that allegedly happened in September.

While prosecutors and Merced police said there's solid evidence that Williams abused his wife, those close to Williams argued that his latest arrest is backlash for accusing the Merced Police Department of excessive force.

Despite the arrest, one of Williams' lawyers said a civil lawsuit against the department is moving forward.

Williams' case first made national headlines after a Sept. 11 incident when a Merced police officer stunned him with a Taser. Williams is wheelchair-bound and an amputee below both knees. Williams also claims officers left him handcuffed on the pavement, with his pants down, exposing his private parts to onlookers.

The police department's internal affairs division launched an investigation into the Taser incident after Williams' family members filed a complaint.

In regards to Williams' arrest this week, he's facing three felony counts: corporal injury to a spouse, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. On Thursday, he pleaded not guilty to those charges in Merced County Superior Court.

His next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 1. He remains at the Merced County Jail, in lieu of $110,000 bail.

Deputy District Attorney Monique Neese said the domestic violence incident happened Sept. 6, five days before the Taser incident with Merced police. Neese said police discovered evidence of the alleged abuse while they were conducting the internal investigation into the Sept. 11 Taser incident.

Neese said the evidence includes statements from Williams' wife and her family, as well as photographs of injuries. Neese said Williams allegedly hit his wife with a broomstick during an argument, jumped on her and attempted to strangle her.

Williams' wife suffered a laceration to her forehead and was dripping blood, Neese said.

The allegations came to light as a result of the police department's internal affairs investigation. The information about the accusations of domestic abuse was reviewed by the Merced County District Attorney's Office domestic violence unit.

After reviewing the allegations, Neese said a warrant was filed Jan. 14 for Williams' arrest. Neese said it's possible Williams could have committed the crime, even though he's confined to a wheelchair. "He still has arms, and the ability to commit an assault on a person," Neese said. "The fact that he's in a wheelchair doesn't mean that he doesn't have the ability to hurt someone."

Despite several efforts, Williams couldn't be reached for comment this week. Family members close to him said his attorney has advised him not to talk to the media.

Oakland-based John Burris, Williams' attorney, declined comment Tuesday. Burris said although he'll continue to represent Williams in the Taser case, he's advised his client to seek another attorney to address the domestic violence allegations.

Regardless, Burris said his client is still prepared to press forward with a lawsuit against the Merced Police Department for allegedly using excessive force. "It's still in the works," Burris said.

The law allows Williams six months to file a claim with the city of Merced. If the claim is rejected, Williams will have six months to file a lawsuit in Superior Court, or two years to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Read the full story at the Merced Sun-Star.