Archive for Friday, April 3, 2009

Family seeks $100M after man died in Taser incident

Family members of a Lawrence man who died after Shawnee county sheriffs used a taser on him have filed a lawsuit seeking $100 million of damages.

April 3, 2009

Advertisement

Related document

Haake complaint ( .PDF )

Family members of a Lawrence man who died after Shawnee County sheriff’s deputies used a Taser on him have filed a lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages.

Relatives of Walter Haake filed the wrongful death suit in U.S. District Court.

Haake died after sheriff’s deputies were called to the Goodyear Plant in Topeka the night of March 29, 2008.

The 59-year-old plant employee was leaving work, when co-workers noticed he wasn’t feeling well and seemed to be disoriented. They called the sheriff’s department and deputies were attempting to keep Haake from driving home.

But according to court documents, when Haake resisted, sheriff’s deputies tased him three times, twice in the thigh and once in the arm, and held him face down on the ground while handcuffing him.

The lawsuit names Shawnee County Sheriff Richard Barta, the two deputies involved in the incident and Taser International Inc. as defendants.

The lawsuit claims the deputies’ use of excessive and deadly force violated Haake’s constitutional rights.

“At no time during the events … did Walter E. Haake Jr. pose a danger or threat of serious harm to himself or to anyone else,” Attorney Erik Klinkenborg wrote in the complaint. “At the time he was shot with the Taser (he) did not have the keys to his vehicle.”

Haake’s wife and children also blame the company that manufactured the Taser gun, which they call “an unreasonably dangerous product.”

The lawsuit claims the Taser’s design was defective for “allowing for an excessive amount of electricity to be delivered” into Haake’s body, causing his death.

Taser International denies any liability, claiming that Haake did not die as a result of being tased.

The Shawnee County Coroner previously ruled Haake died after being held face down by the deputies, and that it was the compression of his chest, combined with his diabetes and cardiac problems that led to his death.

The judge gave both sides until next year to reach a possible settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, a jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 2, 2010.

Comments

avoice 6 years, 4 months ago

Way too much of this going on. Tasers should be outlawed.

somebodynew 6 years, 4 months ago

I just wonder why Goodyear is not named. Goodyear is the people who tried to keep him from driving in the first place, and called the cops. But for some reason they aren't named ???? Maybe because other family members still work there?? Hhhmmmmm

katjok 6 years, 4 months ago

I would say because Goodyear isn't the one that used unnecessary force. It's bizarre to me how this incident involved tasing. Although very thoughtful of the goodyear employees to look out for his health & safety, why didn't someone just drive him home instead of calling the cops? Since when do cops have the authority to tell people they can't drive home after work, even if they're not feeling well?

Bob Forer 3 years, 7 months ago

If he was disoriented as the article indicates, allowing him to drive home would have put the lives of other motorists and pedestrians in jeopardy.

Am not defending the actions of the police in using a taser on him. Nonetheless, the police had an obligation to ensure he did not operate a motor vehicle if he was disoriented.

mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a tragic situation, but who would have been sued if his co-workers had allowed him to drive home instead, when he wasn't feeling well.

mom_of_three 6 years, 4 months ago

This is a tragic situation, but who would have been sued if his co-workers had allowed him to drive home instead, when he wasn't feeling well and he had died in a car accident.

Matthew Fowler 6 years, 4 months ago

Since when are cops allowed to carry portable electric chairs?

I always thought that an individual had the right to due process before being tried, convicted, and electrocuted.

Scott Drummond 6 years, 4 months ago

"I just wonder why Goodyear is not named. Goodyear is the people who tried to keep him from driving in the first place, and called the cops. But for some reason they aren't named ???? Maybe because other family members still work there?? Hhhmmmmm"

More than likely they have already settled with the plaintiffs. I don't know that to be a fact, but that would be my guess.

Kyle Reed 6 years, 4 months ago

"Since when do cops have the authority to tell people they can't drive home after work, even if they're not feeling well?"

Law enforcement has always had the ability to tell people they can't drive if they think they are unsafe to.

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 4 months ago

This is sad, but none of us were there and none of us know the circumstances, but the police would not have told someone they couldn't drive home just to mess with them. It's more paperwork for them! They must have had a good reason to believe that he couldn't drive, possibly the same one that his co-workers had when they called the PD. I don't see this going very in court far as Tasers have been proven again and again to not be deadly. Accidents happen, yes, but something else might have contributed to his death that isn't being made clear here. None of us would call a quart of water "deadly" but you can still drown in it depending on what other factors are at work. If, though, the plaintiffs are correct and the taser was emitting more electricity than usually allowed, simple forensic tests will show this in court. This is the only way I think they will win, but the PD is not to blame.

gogoplata 6 years, 4 months ago

These turds should be tried for murder.

"I am a cop and you will respect my authority"

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61bES4Pwg%2BL.SL500_AA259.gif

natas 6 years, 4 months ago

I take that none of you have ever had to deal with a diabetic that is haveing issue with low sugar. They can be very violent and no fun to deal with. I have never seen one that needed to be tasered, but I have had them throw a punch at me while trying to get thier sugar back up. I don't know all that was going on in this case .. but I bet some sugar and a trip to his doc would have been much more benifical. .... sorry to the family

Kyle Reed 6 years, 4 months ago

"I am glad that they have sued."

What about them filing a lawsuit makes you glad?

HermioneElliott 6 years, 4 months ago

On the surface it sounds stupid to call the police because someone is not feeling well. There are many times when family could have called the cops on me, and vice versa, based on that alone. After hearing that diabetics can be violent, that changes things. His co-workers said he was disoriented which could mean a lot of things. If he died from chest compression, then why don't more people die? They are all treated more or less the same way. Ideally he should have been transported to the hospital for medical treatment. Looking back his co-workers should have called for an ambulance instead of the cops. But this is not an ideal world is it? I understand why his family is angry and grieving and they want someone to pay for this death.

tellitlikeitis 6 years, 4 months ago

I think that police officers are not only using their tasers inappropriately more often then not, they need to go back to the basics of protecting and serving.
Why are officers so afraid of someone, who has no possession of a deadly weapon?
It's almost like they are using tasers like everyone else uses cell phones. Yes, they are convenient, easy to use, and they get the job done quickly, but realistically, are they really needed? In some instants, yes, tasers are needed, just as cell phones, but in many, no. I believe that both are a great thing to have, in the right situation.
I guess the point I am trying to make is they need to use digression with their taser, as most people need to use digression with their cell phones. In the wrong situation, both can be potentially deadly.

Tom McCune 6 years, 4 months ago

  1. The autopsy showed he died from compression of the chest, which has nothing to do with electricity from the Taser.

  2. We don't know how erratic his behavior was or how violent he became, but you folks realize that in the bad old days if he was violently resisting arrest, the cops would have just shot him. They were at least trying to subdue him without that....

soldier1 6 years, 4 months ago

Newell_Post:

Here are the facts: 1) The police took his keys, so he wasnt going anywhere. 2) He wasnt violent. The cops warned him 3 times that he needed to get out of his car. When he refused, she (the police officer) used the taser on his thigh. 3) Haake had heart problems. 4) His son works at Goodyear.

It was unnessary to use a taser on him because there was not reason to. In my opinion, they should have had an ambulance there, even if he was refusing help. I hope the Haake family gets every penny.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.