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Ohio Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Police Tasered Man in Psych Hospital

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the family of a man who allegedly died after being shot with a Taser by police while defenseless and doped up on sedatives in an Ohio hospital’s psychiatric ward. 

The Taser death lawsuit was filed in federal court late last month by the family of Kelly Brinson, 45, alleging that University of Cincinnati police used excessive force that resulted in his death last January. The complaint also accuses University Hospital of negligence in caring for Brinson, naming the hospital, hospital trustees, the chief of the university’s police force, and seven officers allegedly involved in Brinson’s death as defendants.

Brinson voluntarily entered the University Hospital psychiatric ward in Cincinnati on January 17. He was bi-polar and suffered from schizophrenia and other disorders. Hospital staffers say that on January 20, he became agitated and upset when they took away his cell phone, which he used to communicate with his family. Hospital staff allegedly gave Brinson Haldol, a powerful sedative, and then placed him in a secluded room to give the sedative time to work and calm Brinson down.

The lawsuit claims that while Brinson was in the room, seven University of Cincinnati police entered the room to subdue Brinson. The family alleges that they shot Brinson with a Taser gun, restrained him to the bed, and then shot him again. Brinson then allegedly went into cardiac arrest. He died after spending the next three days on a respirator.

Ohio Department of Mental Health officials who investigated the incident placed the hospital on probation on February 5, and suggested that the police response was overboard. The probation was lifted from the hospital once it presented a plan on how to improve its policy in future, similar, incidents that may occur.

Brinson’s cause of death was determined to be excited delirium, a term often associated with police custody and taser-related deaths. Law enforcement agencies say that excited delirium occurs when a person gets too agitated, causing their body chemistry to become unbalanced, resulting in death. The term is not a formally recognized medical condition by the American Medical Association, and the Canadian Medical Association Journal refers to it as a pop culture phenomenon.

Excited delirium is almost exclusively used to describe deaths in police custody, usually from heart attacks or cardiac arrests, that occur during incidents which are questioned for the alleged use of excessive force. The condition is recognized by the National Association of Medical Examiners.

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