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Galveston man dies after shocked by Taser

There are many tools that police officers have at their disposal when they are in the process of making an arrest. One of them is a device known generically as a stun gun, and in this case specifically, as a Taser.

A 34-year-old man died in February, two days after he was shocked by a Taser. His wife has filed a lawsuit against Taser International, the city of Galveston and Galveston County. The lawsuit asserts that excessive force by the police and repeated shocks from the Taser were the cause of death of the 34-year-old.

The incident in question began when the 34-year-old jumped twice from a second floor balcony. Officers were called to the scene and found the man sitting on the curb outside a restaurant. The police claim that he appeared to be under the influence of drugs.

The lawsuit asserts that at some point during the attempted arrest, even though the man did not threaten the police, that the police hog-tied the man and shocked him multiple times with a Taser. Tasers emit a 50,000 volt shock. After being shocked several times, the 34-year-old stopped breathing.

According to the police, the man received CPR from a medical crew, and was then transported to an area hospital. The report did not mention whether the police performed CPR, or simply waited for the medical crew. Two days later, the man died at the hospital. An autopsy was performed and a toxicology report is pending.

The man's wife, on behalf of herself and the couple's three children, alleges that the man's civil rights were violated. Further, that suit states that police are not formally trained in the use of the Taser, and that the department has a history of using excessive force.

Taser International is the subject of 60 lawsuits since 2001, and 330 people have died after being shocked with a Taser. According to the lawsuit, there is a known increased risk of death among people who are under the influence of drugs when shocked by a stun gun.

There are several factors that will be under consideration in this lawsuit, including wrongful death, civil rights violations, excessive force and product liability. Galveston readers may want to keep an eye on this story to see how it is resolved.

Source: chron.com, "Taser victim's wife sues Galveston, Taser," Harvey Rice, March 12, 2012

Source: The Daily News, "Family files a stun gun lawsuit," Chris Paschenko, March 11, 2012

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