Illinois Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settled by Police Over Excessive Taser Use

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By: AboutLawsuits | Published: May 5th, 2009

A settlement has been reached in a police brutality lawsuit filed by the mother of a teen who died in 2006 after being struck with a Taser stun gun by Jerseyville police officers in Illinois.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Rita Cummings, the mother of Roger Holyfield, who died on October 29, 2006. The case was brought against police officers and dispatchers with the Jerseyville Police Department and the City of Jerseyville in Illinois.

The complaint alleged that officers used unreasonable and excessive force when they placed Holyfield under arrest without sufficient cause. Although he was unarmed, handcuffed and laying facedown on the ground, the officers reportedly shot Holyfield with a Taser several times.

After Holyfield began vomiting, emergency medical responders were called and he died on the way to a local hospital.

Although the medical examiner indicated that Holyfield’s death was from natural causes as a result of “excited delirium,” the family alleged that the police brutality and excessive Taser use caused the death.

“Excited delirium,” which is also sometimes referred to as “agitated delirium,” is a controversial designation that is regularly cited as a cause of death for individuals apprehended by police who are acting in an irrational and hyperactive manner and subsequently die in custody. It only appears as a cause of death where police are involved in restraining an individual, and it is commonly cited following the use of Tasers by police.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cummings reached an agreement to settle the Illinois wrongful death lawsuit but the terms of the resolution were not disclosed.

Police use of Tasers has generated substantial controversy, especially in recent months following several other deaths involving teens struck by the stun guns that are designed to deliver non-lethal electro-muscular shocks to temporarily disable a person.

As a result of at least 350 deaths linked to Taser use, Amnesty International has called for the stun guns to only be used in life threatening situations or not be used at all. A report released by Amnesty in December 2008 indicated that approximately 90% of the deaths they examined involving police use of a Taser were situations where the suspect was unarmed and did not appear to present a serious threat.

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There Are 4 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. Check out the Truth Not TASERs web site. There have been over 400 deaths reported following TASER deployment. These weapons are not non-lethal and they also cause a lot of permanent damage to a person.

  2. The police abuse there right to protect us i was in my home having a friends bitrhday get together decided i didnt want to drive home cause i had a couple drinks so i woke my dad up to give me a ride we walked out to find cops outside in the street we went back inside they then came up to my dad and asked him to have us to go outside he came back in the house it was a couple mins later he decided to open both of my front doors and make entry in to my home then first attacked my black friend who was there and cuffed him i asked them why they were taking him the cop rushed me beat the hell outta me in front of my mother father friends and neighbor then cuffed me and shot me point blank with a taser and shocked me over and over till i was having seziure after seziure

  3. First to Mary. Pre-existing conditions are the leading causes of death among those that have been shot by a Taser. The Taser itself did not cause the death. Permanent injuries are not causes solely by the use of the Taser. The Taser delivers the electrical shock and immobilizes the person and does not cause permanent injury. The permanent injuries result from falls by people who have been shot with the Taser. Hitting their heads on the ground or landing on various body parts are just some of the injuries that can occur.

    To Joey, its time to tell the real story buddy, because the ignorant story you just told is only your version and a distorted one at that. Anyone with common sense can see that.

  4. They beat that boy to death,He died of head trama. They hand cuffed a 17 year old kid, because he said he wanted Jesus. They beat him and then tasered him several times.

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