WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - A preacher who was tased by police inside a church in Worcester over the weekend says one of the responding officers “wanted to knock him out” because they were unable to properly subdue him.
Officers responding to the Cornerstone Baptist Church on Sunday night were greeted by 55-year-old Joseph Rizzuti, who allegedly blocked them from speaking to a woman and slammed a door into them as they followed him.
Police say an officer later used a stun gun to gain control over Rizzuti during a struggle that ensued.
“I was tased while I was laying on the ground prone, with my hands out,” Rizzuti told 7NEWS. “He decided that because he was small and couldn’t put my hands behind my back, he wanted to knock me out. It didn’t work, so he went to the next step, and started pounding on me.”
In a video of the incident captured on a cellphone, a panicked bystander could be heard screaming, “Why are you doing this? You’re hurting him!”
Police say Rizzuti was interfering in a child custody case but he denied slamming a door on the officers.
“The door they kicked in is the door they’re claiming they got hit with but that would have to match up with their story,” Rizzuti said. “There are two stories.”
Rizzuti told 7’s Steve Cooper that that situation would have been a lot worse if his church wasn’t filled with so many people.
“I believe that if I had been alone in that building, most likely I would have been murdered in that building by these police officers,” he said. “Fortunately, there were 25 to 30 people there, and they could not get away with it.”
While Rizzuti says he fully supports the Worcester Police Department, he feels the way officers treated him was uncalled for.
When asked if it was a case of police brutality, Rizzuti said, “That or they don’t know how to arrest anybody. Maybe they don’t know how to get hands behind the back.”
Rizzuti was arraigned Tuesday in Worcester District Court on charges including assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.
He was released on personal recognizance.
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