The complaint was filed by Laurie Peabody, the mother of Matthew T. Hook, against Perry Township Police Department on November 30. According to a report by The Columbus Dispatch, Hook was struck with the Taser stun gun while attempting to climb an 8-foot tall fence behind a sporting goods store and fell onto his head.
The lawsuit alleges that Hook was a victim of police brutality and excessive use of force, resulting in serious and permanent brain damage that has left him physically and mentally disabled.
Police say that Hook had stolen an SUV and was attempting to flee police on foot. When he failed to halt, Officer Shawn Bean fired his Taser weapon at him. The police department cleared Bean of wrongdoing, saying that he acted appropriately.
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability world wide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a traumatic brain injury each year. Such injuries often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care.
A growing number of lawsuits have been filed against police departments as the use of Taser-brand stun guns has increased nationwide, alleging that use of the weapons constitute excessive use of force for the circumstances.
In 2008, Amnesty International released a report on Taser police use, calling for departments throughout the United States to stop using Taser guns or to strictly limit their use to life-threatening situations. The human rights group linked 334 deaths to the use of Taser guns between 2001 and August 2008.
Amnesty noted that 90% of the Taser deaths examined involved people who were unarmed and did not appear to present a serious threat to the officers. A large number of the fatalities involved misuse of the weapons, including multiple Taser shocks or exposing suspects to prolonged shocks.