The Orlando Sentinel reports that on the story of a 33-year-old man who was killed a month ago after an Orlando police officer zapped him with a taser stun gun because they said his behavior was out of control at a movie theater at Universal CityWalk. The man had celebrated his birthday with his family the same day. One of the gifts he received was a new cane to help him walk despite his excruciating back spasms.
His family members say they do not recognize the actions that police reported as resembling Johnson. He was described by police as being “disorderly” grabbing his beard and his head. It took four officers to try and restrain him, but police say Johnson resisted. That’s when they decided to use a taser on him. Johnson became unresponsive and officers used CPR to try and bring him around. He was taken to Dr. P. Phillips Hospital where he was declared dead. The police officers involved are now back on duty. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has opened an investigation into the death of Johnson.
According to the article, hundreds of people have died after receiving up to 50,000 volts from a taser stun gun. Amnesty International reports that more than 400 people have died from taser inflicted strikes. If a taser is used near the heart, the voltage can cause one’s heart to jump from 72 beats per minute to as many as 220 beats per minute. The controversy is whether or not that can cause a heart attack.
While many industry-funded taser safety studies say it cannot, wrongful death and negligence lawsuits have been filed against law enforcement agencies for deaths allegedly caused by a taser stun gun. Despite a link to heart attacks, the Orange County Sheriff announced in March deputies would soon carry a more powerful taser to be able to go through clothing.
The Florida taser injury victim lawyers at Farah & Farah offers its condolences to the friends and family of this man who was so loved. At this point the family is grieving which is compounded by the many questions that remain – why would police taser someone who was so fun loving, did not use drugs and would not have confronted police? A toxicology report taken at the time of his death has not been released. If you or a loved one have become the victim of this form of police action, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to answer questions about your legal options at this point.