Criminal, civil rights charges conflict in dueling cases

Staff Writer

West Point wants a federal judge to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit brought by a 34-year-old man who claims he was the victim of excessive force by police.

The same man faces criminal charges of assaulting five West Point police officers during a crazed confrontation three years ago.

In his federal lawsuit filed last month, Raynaldo Gonzales, who listed a Caledonia address when he signed an affidavit of indigency in June 2015, claims West Point police assaulted and shot him unnecessarily with a Taser several times at his mother's home at 663 Hawkings Trailer Park on April 24, 2015.

He claims he suffered broken ribs and other injuries.

But police tell a different story in Clay County Circuit Court documents, accusing Gonzales of fighting with five officers, doing more than $1,000 in damage to a police car and destroying two Tasers during the altercation in which he disparaged his relatives and claimed "rapture was occurring."

Attorney Ben Lang, of Starkville, represents Gpnzales in the criminal charges in Clay County and filed the federal court lawsuit on his behalf.

A motions hearing related to the criminal case is set for July 6 in Circuit Court.
No hearing has been set in the federal lawsuit.
In its response and motion to dismiss filed last week in U.S. District Court, West Point cites a number of reasons the case should be dismissed,
including a denial of Gonzales' accusations and that the statute of limitations expired.

Furthermore, the city says Lang failed to name specific personnel and that the city can't be held accountable as an entity.

Furthermore, although the federal lawsuit alleges a broad pattern of wrong by the city, it doesn't cite specific policies or instances to support its claims.

The two sides do agree that Gonzales' mother, Bertha Gonzales, called Clay County 911 at about 7 p.m. on April 24, 2015, asking for police to check on her son's welfare.

When officers arrived, Reynaldo, who was unarmed, was sitting on the front steps of his mother's home.

An altercation ensued.

He was arrested at the time and in October 2015, indicted on five counts of assault on an officer for attacks on James Scott, Stephen Young, Eric Johnson, John Langford, and Bob Moore. He also was charged with two counts of malicious mischief for breaking out a patrol car window and damaging the two X26 Service Tasers.