Georgia officers could face suit in Taser wrongful death case

Two police officers could face civil litigation after their criminal convictions in the Taser death of a suspect. The officers were both convicted in mid-December, with the jury only requiring 30 minutes to deliver verdicts in connection with this latest in a string of police-induced fatal accidents. Police departments throughout Georgia and the rest of the nation have been facing increasing civil pressure from wrongful death suits, particularly those related to Tasers and stun guns. This is one of the few high-profile criminal cases that have resulted in an actual conviction.

In this case, the victim was reportedly shocked more than a dozen times as he was being taken into custody by the two officers. The man, who had fled the scene of an alleged domestic disturbance, lost consciousness shortly after the repeated shocks. Medical experts in the case found that the cause of death was directly related to the use of the Taser, though the decedent was also suffering from heart-related disease when he was fatally wounded.

This case demonstrates the fact that wrongful death cases can be brought against government entities, not only private corporations. Police officers are responsible for serving and protecting our citizens, not for shocking them with Tasers until their hearts stop. This flagrant abuse of power should be punished with both civil and criminal penalties.

Family members in these wrongful death cases may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of companionship, among other civil claims. The loss of a loved one is an especially traumatic event when the death is caused by police officers that should be trusted to care for the public. Government officials should be held liable for their roles in such wrongful death cases, and those consequences can be levied through the civil courts, as well.

Source: Reuters, "Ex-Georgia policeman convicted of murder in Taser death of suspect: media," Dec. 16, 2016

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