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Friday, August 05, 2011

Taser, family of Lafayette's Ryan Wilson settle lawsuit over 2006 death

august 4, 2011
John Aguilar, Daily Camera

Nearly five years to the day since Lafayette resident Ryan Wilson[died after being shot with a Taser as he ran from police, his parents have reached an out-of-court settlement with the stun-gun manufacturer.

The long-running legal saga - which was due to go to trial next week in federal court in Denver - came to an end Wednesday when an order terminating the case was entered.

Ryan's parents, Jack and Wendy Wilson, and Arizona-based Taser International agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice, which means the couple is prohibited from suing Taser again in the incident.

Each party agreed to cover its own attorneys' fees and costs.

Jack Wilson, reached by phone Thursday, declined to comment.

Wendy Wilson's attorney, Michael Thomson, said he was not able to divulge the terms of the settlement between both parties. But he said his client intends to appeal a judge's ruling from last year that threw out a suit against the Lafayette police officer - John Harris - who fired the Taser at her son.

The parents claim that Harris didn't warn their son that he was going to use his Taser gun, as department protocols require, and that either he or the department destroyed taped evidence of the event from a video recorder in his police vehicle.

Prosecutors and the police department cleared Harris of any wrongdoing.

"Wendy is still focused on the police officer here and we plan to appeal the decision dismissing the case against the officer," Thomson said.

Lafayette police Cmdr. Gene McCausey declined to comment on the case. He said Harris is still a patrol officer and is starting his ninth year with the force.

It's not clear what role a $10 million verdict against Taser two weeks ago - in which a federal jury in Charlotte, N.C., determined that the company was at fault in the death of a 17-year-old boy who was shocked in the chest by a police officer - played in the decision by the parties to come to a resolution.

Thomson would only say about the North Carolina case: "I knew about it."

Following the Charlotte verdict and another Taser-related death in the city two days later, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department pulled all its Tasers off the streets for as many as 45 days for testing.

Calls to Taser's press office were not returned Thursday and attorneys for the company could not be reached.

Ryan Wilson, 22, was shot with a Taser gun Aug. 4, 2006, in a field near West South Boulder Road as he ran from police, who were investigating a report of marijuana plants growing in the area.

The Boulder County Coroner's Office ruled that Wilson died of an irregular heartbeat caused by a combination of exertion from running from police, the Taser shock and a heart condition present since birth.

A year after his death, Wilson's family sued both the Lafayette Police Department and Taser.

The now-dismissed case against Taser was a product liability suit that claimed that the company knew its Taser X26 had caused several deaths of people who were in an "exhausted and/or excited state," similar to the condition Wilson was in at the time of his death five years ago.

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