June 23, 2009
The Associated Press
MOBERLY, Mo. This municipality agreed Monday to an indefinite moratorium on the use of stun guns and will pay $2.4 million to survivors of a man who died after police shocked him.
Stanley Harlan, 23, died in August 2008 after Moberly police officers stunned him three times during a stop for suspected drunken driving. His family settled with the city of Moberly on Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.
Harlan's mother, Athena Bachtel, sought the moratorium as a way to prevent other deaths, said the family's lead attorney, Stephen M. Ryals.
"The pursuit of justice for her son and specifically reforms of the behavior of Moberly police was paramount," Ryals said. "The monetary settlement was really unimportant to her."
Harlan was shocked after arguing with officers during a traffic stop. Authorities have said he was suspected of drunken driving. A statement from his family's lawyers said he was accused of speeding.
The readout on the officers' Taser indicated Harlan was stunned three times, Ryals said. Harlan lost consciousness and died a short time later.
Calls to attorneys for the city Monday night were not immediately returned. But the city said in a news release that no fault was admitted in the settlement and its insurance company will pay the entire settlement.
"It is never the goal or desire of any police officer to cause or contribute to the death of any person," the release said. "Mr. Harlan's death was certainly unanticipated and unintentional."
The release from the city noted that the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the FBI investigated the death and found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. No criminal charges were filed.
But Ryals said his clients haven't given up on the possibility of a criminal prosecution.
He said he also is considering a lawsuit against the maker of the stun gun, Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz.
The stun gun moratorium will continue until two town hall meetings have been held, and the police department has issued a revised Taser policy. The city also has agreed to assign at least one automatic external defibrillator to an on-duty patrol unit and require additional training on topics including recognizing and responding to medical distress.
Bachtel, along with Harlan's father, Darrell Harlan, and his 1-year-old son will share in the settlement.
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
June 23, 2009