Nearly a half-million people have seen the video of James Wood's fateful encounter with Cotati police, posted on YouTube and linked to on sites including the Huffington Post.
It shows the 34-year-old Army reservist being tased in his own home after refusing to open his door to officers responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Police said the action was necessary to insure the safety of Wood's wife, who was heard sobbing inside the apartment.
But Wood claims it was unjustified and points to his own video as proof that no emergency existed. The recording shows police standing outside a window, “chatting”to the occupants, including the wife, who insists she is okay, according to legal papers.
Wood's lawyer, Ben Adams, will argue in court Friday that the real reason officers kicked down the door and shot Wood with three high-voltage stun guns was because he was asserting his right to privacy.
Adams will ask Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Peter Ottenweller to throw out an obstruction charge against Wood on grounds that police entered his home illegally.
“The question is simply this: Do we live in a society of laws or a police state?” Adams asked in court papers filed earlier this week.
The video, which went viral shortly after the May 10 incident, has divided viewers who say that it shows police either overstepping their authority or doing their job to protect the public.
It also has figured in discussions over whether to equip officers with body-worn cameras to get a fuller view of street interactions. Cotati police began wearing them after the incident and other agencies are following suit.
Prosecutors appear to have watched Wood's video in concluding officers acted correctly in forcing their way into his Marsh Way home without a warrant. Their court papers contain verbatim conversations between Wood and the officers before they kicked in his door.