The Jefferson County Sherriff’s Department in Illinois has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a police brutality lawsuit filed after deputies allegedly used a stun gun on three children and physically assaulted a young girl.
The lawsuit was brought against deputies David Bowers and Lonnie Lawler, who came to a center for troubled youths on a call regarding children being disruptive on July 4, 2008. According to the complaint, when the police officers arrived they began accosting the wrong children. All of the alleged victims were between the ages of 11 and 18.
Witnesses said that Bowers repeatedly shocked one boy with a stun gun, and then held down a second child, stunning him repeatedly and threatened to sodomize him, causing the child to soil himself. A third boy who allegedly complied with the deputies’ orders was handcuffed and stunned repeatedly.
The stun gun lawsuit claimed the deputies also assaulted a young girl who pleaded with the officers to stop attacking her friends. They handcuffed her, choked her against the wall and then hurled her into a closet, where she then vomited, the lawsuit alleged. The girl was a foster child who did not live at the center, but witnessed the alleged attacks and tried to intervene, according to plaintiffs.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the settlement will be paid to the children over time as they get older. However, the accused deputies did not admit to any wrong doing as part of the settlement. An investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department and the Illinois State Police resulted in no criminal charges against the two deputies.
In December 2008, a report released by Amnesty International called on the government to limit police stun gun use to life-threatening situations or to stop using them altogether. The organization cited 334 deaths associated with Taser stun guns between 2001 and August 2008.