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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Florida jury: deputy justified in tasering man

June 4, 2008
By Todd Ruger, Miami Herald

SARASOTA COUNTY — A sheriff’s deputy did not use excessive force when he used a Taser stun gun to subdue and arrest a homeowner whose music was too loud during a party, a federal jury ruled Tuesday.

Deputy Mark Eve went to the $2.3 million waterfront home for a noise complaint on the Fourth of July, and businessman Todd J. McNally got out of the hot tub to respond.

Deputy Mark Eve sent the disabling 50,000 volts of electricity through McNally’s body — twice — because the homeowner had taken a “fighting stance” and would not put his hands on a car.

Sarasota County attorneys representing Eve argued that using the Taser stun gun was not excessive force because Eve did not want to get into a physical scuffle with McNally in a crowd of people drinking alcohol.

Even before the trial, a judge ruled that Eve was justified in arresting McNally on the misdemeanor noise ordinance violation, so the only issue at trial was whether Eve used excessive force to make the arrest.

That meant some other issues — such as whether McNally was at all obligated to provide his name, address or any other information to the deputy — were not part of the trial.

Eve testified at the trial that he stunned McNally a second time because the homeowner tried to get up from a grassy area after the first stun.

McNally filed a lawsuit against Eve, saying witnesses — including friends, family and business associates — all agree that the deputy overreacted. None of those people testified during the trial this week. Many of those witnesses said in depositions they had numerous alcoholic drinks before Eve showed up.

State attorneys dropped the criminal charge against McNally from the incident. Eve was not disciplined. His supervisors and a use-of-force reviewer with the Sheriff’s Office signed off on his report about the incident without finding a violation of sheriff’s office Taser policy.

That policy says a deputy may use a Taser to defend himself, another person, or to “gain compliance with a subject in custody.”

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