Sparks firefighter Timothy Egan was sued last month after an incident in December that left an older woman suffering a brain injury, according to court documents. Egan was sued personally by Maureen Hvegholm, and the Sparks City Council approved the hiring of the Hutchison & Steffen law firm to defend him in the case.
The same law firm is suing the City of Sparks in a case filed by former Sparks Fire Chief Mark Lawson, who was fired last year after just days on the job. The council in that case recently refused a settlement offer by the firm’s Jason Guinasso, who in turn sued the city.
Hvegholm, 84, was feeding cats in a Sparks alleyway where a Sparks Fire Department is located.
“I think it’s pretty clear in the video that he violently assaulted an advanced-aged woman who’s a very vulnerable person to begin with,” Hvegholm’s son Mark told the Sparks City Council yesterday. “It became pretty apparent in that video that he physically grabbed ahold of her, held his leg out … lifted her up and smacked her head first into the concrete alleyway floor, resulting in a pretty traumatic head injury for her.”
“His actions are technically justified, but were they necessary? If some old lady came at me I wouldn’t fucking leg sweep her to the ground onto the fucking concrete. I would just push her back and step away.”— Sparks Police Officer
Mark said he was surprised the city would spring for Egan’s defense. He called Egan’s leg sweep “an egregious act.”
Video of the incident shows Hvegholm attempting to feed cats in the alleyway. Egan allegedly picks up feeding dishes. Hvegholm then “swats” at him, throws cat food and water at him, and Egan leg sweeps her.
According to the lawsuit, “When facing Ms. Hvegholm, the Defendant began to grab the cat food and the water that Hvegholm was placing in the alley from the ground and then from Hvegholm’s hands. Startled by the Defendant’s actions, Hvegholm swatted at the Defendant.”
Hvegholm told police in December after the incident that she saw a truck pass by when she was feeding the cats. She then said saw somebody was behind her. The next thing she said she remembered was waking up on the asphalt face down.
“Oh my God. It hurt so bad,” she told police. “I didn’t know who the hell he was.”
She said she thought Egan was going to kill her.
The cat feeding near the fire station has been an ongoing conflict between Hvegholm, who said she rescues strays, Mark told police.
“He could see I was hurt,” Hvegholm said. “Jesus, it happened so fast. Why would he do that over … feeding a cat?”
A Sparks Police officer told Mark that the video shows Hvegholm throwing water and cat food at Egan and trying to punch him.
Mark said the firefighter was picking up the cat food to prevent her from feeding the strays.
“He’s throwing it away as fast as she’s trying to put it down,” he said. “So much for the picture of the fireman getting the cat out of the tree. They don’t want them over there. That still doesn’t give him a pass for what he did.”
Police at the scene debated the charges against Hvegholm.
“It’s battery through and through,” one cop said. “His actions are technically justified, but were they necessary? If some old lady came at me I wouldn’t fucking leg sweep her to the ground onto the fucking concrete. I would just push her back and step away.”
Hvegholm was cited for battery upon a protected person – Egan – but that charge was later dropped.
“Hvegholm has suffered a severe decline in her quality of life, her ability to move about freely, and her ability to care for herself independent of her children – as well as a looming sense of panic, terror, and lack of security in her home resulting from the encounter with the Defendant described above,” the lawsuit alleges.
Sparks City Council member Kristopher Dahir made the motion to approve the hiring of the law firm, which the council approved.
Luke Busby, attorney for Hvegholm, also represents This Is Reno in two cases against the City of Reno. He would not comment for this article.