Written By Las Vegas based Law Clerk: Robert Maxey (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Guns have played a significant role in establishing peace through force since they were first invented. Law officers and the military have come to rely upon them through our modern era. However, not every confrontation requires the use of a handgun, and efforts have been focused to producing weapons that are nonlethal. The most common form of these weapons has been Tasers, and pepper spray. These weapons are intended to offer a safer alternative to the destructive power of guns. However, with any weapon used against someone, there is always a potential for inflicting unintended pain, or death. A verdict of $10,000,000 has been awarded against Taser International to the family of a teenage boy who died at the hands of a “nonlethal” weapon.
The boy had been working at a store, when he entered into an argument with the store manager. The store manager instructed him to leave, and unwilling to cooperate, began throwing displays upon the ground and shouting. When a police officer arrived the boy did not stop his disruption, and the officer wielded his Taser. Next, the officer began to stun the boy with thousands of volts of electricity, for a period of no less than 37 seconds, according to video footage.
An autopsy revealed that the boy’s heart had stopped functioning correctly, and was not pumping blood normally. It also revealed that this was due to the shock, the boy was experiencing from prolonged exposure to the Taser. During the case of the trial, Taser International tried to make claims that this was a result of a preexisting heart condition, but the autopsy found no evidence of this.
The family of the boy filed a wrongful death claim against Taser International and the city of Charlotte. The police officer that was responsible for killing the boy had not followed proper procedure for using his Taser. This resulted in new classes and training, being administered to all police officers in the appropriate use of a Taser.
Taser International was convicted by a jury for not warning those who use Tasers about the dangers of placing a Taser on the chest. For its defense Taser International claimed that studies revealed no increase of danger by placing a Taser on the chest. This, however, seemed to be in direct conflict with the findings of the autopsy report.
While nonlethal forms of keeping the peace can offer better solutions to guns, we must be sure they are in fact nonlethal. Carrying a weapon, that can cause death if used incorrectly, is effectively allowing people to be killed for minor infractions of the law. It is handing out a death sentence for shop lifting, disturbing the peace, or similar misdemeanors. Nonlethal weapons are required to meet a standard of safety, which was not met in this case. No family should have to suffer a loss like this.
Full information the story can be found here: Teen’s family wins $10 million Taser verdict
Our law firm does not represent anybody in the incident described above. The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you or someone you know has suffered injustice at the fault of another or feel your rights have been violated, and would like to be represented by a Nevada attorney, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.