A Wells man who says he was tortured with a Taser after an arrest four years ago can take his case against two York County corrections officers to trial.

A federal judge ruled Monday that Brian Dunnigan can sue Eric Daigneault for allegedly using excessive force – accusing the officer of breaking three ribs and creating permanent scars on Dunnigan’s chest from Taser burns – and Donovan Cram for failing to intervene. Dunnigan agreed to drop his complaint against a third officer, Matthew Rocchio, in October.

But U.S. District Judge George Singal dismissed Dunnigan’s claims against York County and Sheriff William King Jr., citing a lack of evidence to support Dunnigan’s argument that his injuries were a direct result of the county’s failure to train its officers. 

Dunnigan was arrested in 2018 for disorderly conduct in Ogunquit and brought to the jail, where he alleges officers ignored several requests he made for insulin to treat his diabetes. He said Daigneault, who was the supervising officer, ordered Rocchio and Cram to restrain Dunnigan while he shocked him several times with the Taser causing the injuries and emotional trauma. Dunnigan was released the next day and filed the lawsuit in 2019.

Singal denied a motion Monday to dismiss the case against Cram, ruling that there are several pieces of conflicting evidence that pose trial-worthy questions.

Daigneault has not asked the judge to dismiss the case but has rejected the allegations in court filings. Singal noted there is plenty of evidence that could lead a jury to believe his Taser use was excessive, including pictures of Dunnigan’s injuries, testimony from both sides and input from expert witnesses.


Dunnigan said in a phone interview Tuesday that he’s considering appealing Singal’s ruling to remove the county and sheriff – an appeal he can only make after the trial is over – but he is eager to take his claims to a jury after waiting months for the judge to rule.

This photo provided by Brian Dunnigan’s attorney, Ben Donahue, was taken one day after he was released from jail. Dunnigan says he was “tortured” by guards at the York County Jail. Photo courtesy Ben Donahue

“It’s in my mind every day. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by in my brain that I don’t think of this, or I don’t relive it,” Dunnigan said. “I’m afraid to leave my house some days because I don’t want to get pulled over.”

Dunnigan said he’s still confident in all of the evidence that York County was falling short of its own use-of-force policies. His attorney, Thomas Hallett, said Tuesday that the claims against the county require a high standard of proof.

“These are still pretty serious claims that remain on the table here,” Hallett said. “My client was very, very badly injured.”

York County’s attorney, Peter Marchesi, said in an email Tuesday that his clients were pleased with Singal’s ruling and the dismissal of all complaints against them.

“Both Sheriff King and the county were confident that proper policies and training were in place at all times, and that the claims against them were unsupported by any evidence,” Marchesi said. “The court’s decision now confirms that.”


Marchesi said the county still supports the officers, who are each being represented by different attorneys, and that they “acted to the best of their abilities under difficult circumstances which the plaintiff himself created.”

King declined to answer questions about the ruling Tuesday but did confirm that Cram and Daigneault still work at the York County Jail. Neither attorneys for Cram nor Daigneault responded to messages asking about Singal’s order or next steps.

In court filings, officers have stated that Dunnigan wasn’t being cooperative and was a safety risk to himself and others.

But Dunnigan said he was never a threat to others in the jail because he was placed in a cell alone. The complaint says Daigneault entered Dunnigan’s cell to calm him down and get him to sign a summons from Ogunquit police. After Dunnigan swore at him, court records said, Daigneault left, only to return with his Taser.

“With Brian restrained by at least two other officers, Daigneault straddled Brian – his knees on Brian’s chest – and raked the weapon across Brian’s chest for almost one minute,” the complaint stated. 

Daigneault pressed the taser into Dunnigan’s chest so hard it broke three ribs and he was convulsing from the electricity. Officers later said they thought Dunnigan was resisting. The complaint states Daigneault tased Dunnigan “to punish Brian for his perceived non-compliance,” and that the best choice for protecting the safety of others in the jail would’ve been to leave Dunnigan alone.


Dunnigan’s lawsuit alleges that the incident was a direct consequence of York County’s failure to adequately train officers in Taser use, and their “deliberate indifference” to the risk that this failure could result in officers violating arrestees’ constitutional rights.

Daigneault was behind on mandated Taser training, while Cram and Roccio were neither trained nor certified to handle the weapon, the lawsuit said.

But Singal wrote that King has proven he was unaware of any inappropriate Taser incidents. King said he first heard of the matter when Dunnigan emailed him two days after being released from jail. Court records indicate that King was able to find reports of only four use-of-force incidents involving Tasers between 2012 and 2018, and that two of those incidents involved Daigneault.

Singal noted testimony suggesting four other potentially undocumented uses of force between 2012 and 2018 by another corrections officer.

“However, there is no indication that these incidents involved improper uses of force, let alone violations of York County policies or the constitutional rights of its detainees,” Singal said.

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