Another Nail in A TASER Coffin
By Eddie Griffin
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Today, when the Fort Worth City Council voted to accept a $2 million settlement in the Taser related death of Michael Jacobs Jr., it brought some closure and little consolation to one of the saddest and most tragic events in city history. I wonder about all the other municipalities who have had to shell out millions of dollars in a taser death lawsuits.
In a post-decision interview, NBC5 reporter asked: “Were you surprised at the size of the settlement”?
Too some it seems large, the largest settlement in such cases in city history, it is reported. But compared to settlements reached by other cities, wrongful death by taser are running $2 million here and $3 million in Houston in 2009. Injuries associated with being tasered averages in the hundreds of thousands to just over $1 million in a lawsuit where the victim feel face-first and knocked out his front teeth. We have not yet calculated the long term damages to those who survived, but damaged for life.
No, the settlement was not large, and infinitely smaller than the worth of a young man’s life.
[Historic settlement in lawsuit over taser death]
[Excerpt from “Towards Closure and Resolution in Taser Death of Michael Jacobs Jr,” by Eddie Griffin. Saturday, August 29, 2009]
We now have closure in the Fort Worth Police Department’s taser death case of a 24-year old man, who had been diagnosed with mental illnesses. We have closure insofar as the Tarrant County Medical Examiner ruled the death of Michael Jacobs Jr. as a “homicide caused by the officer’s use of the Taser”. We have closure insofar as the officer admits administering two jolts of 50,000 volts to Jacobs’ body longer than the 5-second limitation. A 49-second jolt, followed by a 5-second jolt, caused a “sudden death during neuromuscular incapacitation due to application of a conducted energy device”, i.e. Taser.
Tarrant County ME Dr. Nizam Peerwani also ruled: “Repeat postmortem toxicology studies were negative for all drugs including psychomotor stimulant drugs and ethanol.” In other words, here was an innocent 24-year old African-American man with no drugs in his system at all. He was clean as a baby and healthy. And yet, in less than a minute, he is dead after being shocked with a taser.
The Fort Worth Police is willing to meet with community representatives, in order to initiate the healing process. Meanwhile, the planned purchase of 300 more tasers by the City of Arlington, next door to Fort Worth has leaders disturbed, especially in light of the Fort Worth tragedy. But the Police Chief of Arlington chooses rather to make a show of force for the upcoming 2011 Super Bowl in the City of Arlington.