Last month, jurors in Baltimore ruled that a sheriff’s office corporal was not responsible for wrongful death in the case of Jarrell Gray, a suspect he tasered twice, once while the suspect was on the ground and unresponsive. Jurors ruled that the tasering of the 20-year-old man did not constitute excessive force and therefore awarded no damages to his family over the case. The suspect was involved in an altercation with his cousin when officers arrived. The officers commanded him to show his hands, but the suspect put his hands in his waistband and turned away. The suspect was then facedown on the ground when he did not respond to a second request to show his hands, and was tasered a second time.
The jury was unconvinced that the tasering resulted in the young man’s death after a medical examiner stated only a “temporal connection” between the two events, and also said there has never been a death medically attributed to tasering.
Perhaps the family of Brian Cardall will fare better. Last month, a US District Judge ruled the family’s wrongful death lawsuit against police over Cardall’s death could go forward. Cardall was also tasered twice. Cardall was having a manic episode, running naked in traffic, when officers arrived to help subdue him while his medication took effect. Instead, police tasered the 156-pound naked and obviously unarmed man, who, according to the lawsuit, made no threatening movements. The officer shouted “Come here!” to Cardall, who put his hands in the air. He was tasered once, then “two seconds” later, while on the ground moaning, he was tasered a second time. He was then handcuffed and rolled onto his stomach. Although police saw he was not breathing, they only called paramedics without attempting to render any immediate aid.
Brian Cardell, father of two, one born after his death, was also a scientist and his family maintains a website to spread awareness of his work and his illness.
Because their jobs often involve split-second life-and-death decisions, police are given wide latitude in their actions, even when these actions result in death. This makes wrongful death lawsuits over excessive police force very difficult to prove.
If you have lost a loved one due to excessive police force, it is important to consult with a lawyer who can help you determine whether a wrongful death lawsuit may be likely to succeed. For a free case evaluation, please contact the Columbus, Ohio personal injury lawyers at Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA.