You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Trial date set in Goodyear death

By Tim Hrenchir, cjonline.com
April 1, 2009

A federal judge on Tuesday set an Aug. 2, 2010, trial date in a wrongful death lawsuit filed last year against Shawnee County and other defendants by the family of Walter E. Haake Jr., a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. worker who died last year in the custody of sheriff's deputies.

Court records show U.S. Magistrate Judge David A. Waxse issued a scheduling order giving Haake’s wife and three children an April 16 deadline for proposing a settlement in the case and the defendants until April 30 to make a settlement counter-proposal.

The order set various other deadlines for pre-trial court actions over the next 16 months. It said that should the case go to a jury trial, it is expected to last about 10 days and take place at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.

Waxse issued the order after conducting a telephone conference Monday with attorneys representing plaintiffs Patricia J. Haake, Michelle Haake, Matthew Haake and Marshall Haake, and representing defendants Shawnee County, Shawnee County Sheriff Richard Barta, Shawnee County Deputies Jason B. Mills and Shayna Johnson and Taser International, Inc., of Wilmington, Del.

Court documents indicate Patricia J. Haake is Walter Haake’s widow while the other plaintiffs are his children. The Topeka Capital-Journal learned Wednesday about a seven-count suit they filed last October alleging Mills and Johnson while on duty used unreasonable, excessive and deadly force to cause Walter Haake’s death.

The suit alleges the deputies acted in accordance with Shawnee County’s and Barta's policies and procedures relating to the use of force, including deadly force.

"Specifically, Defendants Shawnee County and Sheriff Barta provide their officers with too much broad discretion in determining whether to use excessive or deadly force without considering less drastic alternatives," it said.

The suit also alleges that a defect in design of a Taser manufacutured by Taser International that was used on Haake "allowed for an excessive amount of electricity to be delivered into" him, causing his death.

Haake, 59, died after deputies responded late March 29, 2008, to his place of employment at Topeka's Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. plant.

Erik Mitchell, county coroner, concluded that Haake -- after being handcuffed -- died accidentally as a result of compression of the torso combined with cardiac disease. He added that depressive effects of prescription drugs detected in Haake's system also probably contributed to his death.

Local officials last year had not revealed the names of the deputies involved, but Mills and Johnson are identified in court documents linked to the lawsuit.

For more information, read Thursday's Capital-Journal.

No comments: