The family of a man who died while in police custody has filed a lawsuit against the police department, alleging that it was the arresting officers' use of a Taser on the man that ultimately caused his death. The police department denies that it Tased the man, and states that the cause of his death remains unknown.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the man's son, who is a police cadet at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. In his lawsuit, the son says that he and his family deserve more information about his father's death. "I believe something happened that wasn't supposed to happen," he told a local newspaper, "whether it was an accident or not."
According to the lawsuit, the fatal incident took place the day after the man was released from jail on a shoplifting charge. While riding on his bicycle, the man was pulled over by police and reportedly became agitated. This is where the accounts of the incident diverge. According to police, the man simply died. But according to a witness who reportedly saw the entire incident, the arresting officers used a stun gun on the man, and were aware that he became injured as a result.
"I could hear [the man] crying and saying, 'Don't hit me anymore. I didn't do it,'" the witness said. Then, she says, the officers admitted to using a stun gun on the man. "I heard one officer say, 'I Tased him,' and another officer say, "You Tased him? Oh, my god. He's not breathing."
However, the police department refuses to admit to the witness' account. In fact, the department has not yet released its report on the incident, despite multiple requests from the family and the media. Hopefully, the lawsuit results in answers, if nothing else, for the grieving family.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Lawsuit filed over alleged Taser death in Utah," Paul Foy, Sept. 6, 2012