Trial Begins Against Deputies who Beat Man so Badly, his Eye Fell out of Socket
Marjorie Bratt, 47, and her husband, Michael, 54, who are suing Hernando County deputies Louis Genovese, Kenneth Van Tassel and Steven George say the deputies attempted to cover up the beating.
Marjorie testified Thursday saying she now fears all Hernando deputies after what happened to her and Michael on Dec. 26, 2009.
Opening arguments for the civil trial began May 15 after Michael stood trial last February on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer in connection with the incident, which began after a call about noise.
He was found not guilty by a jury.
Now he's asking for $10 million in a Tampa federal court.
The Bratts say the deputies were trespassing on their property when they responded to the neighbor's complaint.
When the couple protested, deputies attempted to use a taser on Michael, but failed.
They say deputies repeatedly punched him while handcuffed.
Then, as he lay dazed and confused in his front yard, Michael says deputy Genovese used his knee to crush his eye socket, which caused Bratt's right eyeball to collapse into his cheek cavity, the lawsuit, says.
At that point, deputy George claimed he'd just witnessed domestic violence, pushed open the front door and attempted to taser Michael.
When he fell to the ground, Marjorie says George fell face-first after the door flew open from the deputies pushing on it.
She says deputy George then radioed in to dispatch for help, saying he'd been "shot, stabbed and was down."
Marjorie called George a liar.
Meanwhile, she says, Michael actually handed deputy George back his taser and asked him to please not taser him again.
But George attempted just that.
However, the taser did not operate properly.
Marjories says deputy Kenneth Van Tassel then arrived on the scene, took Michael to the front yard, and began beating him in the face.
Then, deputy Louis Genovese, who weighed 360 pounds at the time of the beating, arrived on-scene and allegedly began punching Michael in the face as well, fracturing his orbital bone and causing his eyeball to fall out of its socket.
According to the lawsuit, Michael was taken outside in handcuffs when Genovese and Tassel arrived and asked if he "liked beating up cops, or words that effect."
Genovese testified, denying he ever kneed Bratt in the face, but says he doesn't know how the injury happened.
Bratt's stepfather-in-law said prisoners of war receive better treatment than his stepson-in-law received.
"Being in Vietnam, being a Vet for a long time, we never treated our prisoners that way," Mike Sebesta told BayNews9.
"We never did anything like that. I just hope justice comes to them because I don't think it's right."
Denise Moloney, spokesperson for the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, said George remains employed as a deputy. Van Tassel resigned, left the area and was not in court Thursday due to moving. He's expected to testify via video.
Genovese was promoted to Sergeant.
The trial is expected to last for about two weeks.