Teen who died in jail after being tasered in groin – and other cases involving the infamous stun gun
A US federal judge has ruled that a family can proceed with their lawsuit against a police officer who tasered their teenage son in the groin on the night that he died in police custody after being arrested while high on LSD.
The Texas teenager, Graham Dyer, was arrested on the night of August 13, 2013 during a trip on the hallucinogenic LSD drug. In the back of the police cruiser, the teen repeatedly banged his head against the metal supports in the vehicle.
Video footage — which the police refused to turn over to the family until years after the incident — showed one officer reaching into the back seat and repeatedly shocking Dyer while another officer held him down by his hair. The teenager was later found unresponsive in his cell and was taken to hospital where he died. The medical examiner concluded that he died due to the self-inflicted head injuries.
The new ruling is only a partial victory for the family, however. While the judge agreed that the case against the police officers could continue, she ruled that the family could pursue only limited damages as they were unable to prove that the officer’s use of the taser had caused him to slam his head against the metal in the car.
The incident is far from the first time US police have come under fire for their use of tasers.
1. Mentally ill man tasered to death in shower
In May this year, bodycam footage showed police tasing a mentally ill man 18 times while he stood naked in his shower. Police had arrived at the man's home after a neighbor called and said the man had been naked in the hallway and having a mental breakdown.
Footage shows the police officers bursting into the bathroom. When the man, who was standing in the shower, failed to respond to police commands, the officers proceeded to tase him 18 times. He died an hour later, but officers face no charges because prosecutors could not prove a link between the use of the taser and his death.
Neighbor calls cops on mentally ill man acting odd. Not armed. No threats. Cops break into man's home, pull him from the shower, beat him, break his rib, Tase him 18 times. He dies 30 min. later. No charges. DA says death unrelated to officers' actions. https://t.co/CPw0yRD4k2— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) April 27, 2018
2. Tasered waiting for a train
In 2013, a black teenager sued the city of Richmond, California, claiming that his civil rights and state laws were violated when he was tased in a train station during an altercation with police. The teen, Andre Little, said the police officer approached him while waiting for the train and asked him if he was involved with another group of black youths. Little said he did not know them, but when he refused to move to another section of the platform, claimed that two officers pushed him to the ground and tasered him in the groin, then turned him around and tasered him in the back. A US district judge ruled that Little did not prove sufficiently that the police were motivated by race.
3. Deaf man beaten and tasered
In 2014, a man in California alleged that he was beaten and tasered by four police officers while attempting to signal to them that he was deaf. The man sued, claiming the police used excessive force and violated his civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The incident occurred when the man visited a friend to pick up snowboarding gear. A neighbor, suspecting a burglary, called out to the man who did not respond because he is deaf. When officers arrived, the man attempted to signal his disability, but police became physical, tasering him multiple times and knocking him unconscious.
4. Tasered to death during arrest
Just this month, a 32-year-old Ontario man died in police custody after being tasered during an altercation with officers. Video footage, captured by a witness at the scene, appears to show a struggle between the officers and the man.
The sound of a taser gun being used can be heard while the man is pushed to the ground, with officers shouting at him to "stop resisting" while others held him on the ground. The witness has claimed that the police kicked and attacked the man before he even had a chance to produce his ID.
This is witness video of @BarriePolice arrest of 32 year old Orlando Brown. The father of an 11 year old girl later died after he went into "medical distress" at the police station. Video shows him being tasered. SIU is now investigating. @CTVBarrieNewspic.twitter.com/g9AnvOob6G— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) June 23, 2018
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have expressed concerns in the past about the excessive use of tasers by police in the US and have urged greater restraint and stricter rules regarding their use.
A Reuters investigation in 2017 found that more than 1,000 people in the US have died after being shocked with police tasers. The taser was found to be a cause or contributing factor in the deaths in 153 of the cases.
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