The City of Shawnee, Oklahoma and police officer Casey Vague have reached a settlement in a federal civil rights case involving the excessive use of a Taser. In the lawsuit, Willard Jackson claimed that Vague used excessive force during an arrest in August 2011.
According to Jackson, an African American, Vague arrived at an apartment complex looking for a white male, but confronted Jackson instead. Before giving Jackson any commands, or establishing officer presence, Jackson claimed that Vague immobilized him by shooting him with a Taser in dart mode, which propelled two steel-tipped darts that embedded themselves in Jackson at speeds in excess of 160 ft. per second. Jackson claimed that Vague continued to trigger the Taser two additional times for no apparent reason while mockingly asking Jackson if “it hurt.”
Immediately following the incident Vague told two paramedics that that he only used the Taser twice, and Vague later prepared a use of force report making an identical claim.
Contrary to Vague’s reports, however, data from the Taser supported Jackson’s version of events. The data showed that Vague triggered an initial 5 second cycle, immediately followed 5 seconds later by a another 5 second cycle. Three seconds after that cycle concluded, the data reported a third 5 second cycle. This data demonstrated that Vague continued to trigger Taser applications without giving Jackson any opportunity to recover from the previous Taser application.
Case law regarding the use of a Taser requires the officer to have independent justification for each use of the Taser. In other words, an officer is not justified in continually triggering the Taser for no apparent reason, even where justification existed for the initial use.
If you have questions about excessive force, or the excessive use of Taser, contact the attorneys at Bryan & Terrill Law, 918-935-2777.
***The attorneys at Bryan & Terrill represented the Plaintiff in this case.