August 29, 2014

Taser-Happy Cop Found Guilty of Excessive Force in the Electrocution of La'Reko Williams

Perhaps if taser-happy police officers have to pay for their impatience and arrogance when they electrocute people to death with their taser guns ... we will have less taser-related deaths! I'm fairly certain that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) officer Michael Forbes will think twice before he uses his taser with such wanton disregard as a result of a federal jury ruling this week!

A federal jury ruled that CMPD Officer Forbes used excessive force when he fired a taser on 21-year old La'Reko Williams a second time, causing his death in 2011.   The jury also awarded the victim's family $500,000, but no award for punitive damages.  [SOURCE]

La'Reko Williams
On July 20, 2011, CMPD officer Michael Forbes was responding to a domestic violence call. When he arrived, 21-year-old La-Reko Williams was walking away from a fight with his girlfriend.   Officer Forbes ordered Williams to stop, but he didn't obey.  So Officer Forbes ended up firing 50,000 volts of electricity with his taser into the chest of Mr. Williams.   Williams fell to the ground, but Forbes then tased him a second time because he didn't listen when he asked him to roll over on his stomach. Williams then died from a heart attack.

The big question in this case was whether the second time Officer Forbes used his taser on Williams was excessive force.

David Ventura, one of the lawyers representing the family, says the jury's decision sends a strong message.
"Tasers have to be used reasonably like any other use of force," Ventura says. "Reasonably meaning based on the circumstances of what is happening at the time, whether it's a taser or any other type of weapon that they have available to them."
In a statement, city attorney Bob Hagemann says the city believes Officer Forbes acted reasonably in a very difficult situation, but respects the jury's decision.   Someone needs to remind Hagemann that the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.   The jury didn't think Forbes "acted reasonably".  Otherwise they wouldn't have ruled against him!

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