Cops Just Love Those Tasers
MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - Minnesota police Tasered a 75-year-old man with a heart ailment while doing a "welfare check" on him, the man claims in court.
James Van Raden sued Moorhead police Officers Steven Larsen, Matthew Wychor and Daniel Birmingham in Federal Court.
"Disregarding the policies of the Moorhead Police Department and their training, ignoring that plaintiff Van Raden was elderly and had a heart condition, and disregarding their own statements that Van Raden was not under arrest, Defendant Police Officers restrained plaintiff, physically took him into custody, twice shocked him with a Taser weapon and callously left him lying on the floor in pain," Van Raden says in the lawsuit.
He claims the defendant officers were sent to his home on Aug. 23, 2011, "on a 'welfare check.'"
The complaint continues: "Plaintiff answered the door the Officers asked to speak with him.
Plaintiff asked whether he was under arrest. Upon being informed by Defendant Officers that he was not under arrest, plaintiff told the officers to leave his home.
"Plaintiff turned away from the officers, walked to his office and sat down in his office chair.
"Plaintiff did not have a weapon.
"Plaintiff was not suspected of having committed any crime.
"Defendant Officers repeatedly informed plaintiff that he was not under arrest.
"Plaintiff did not attempt to flee Defendant Officers.
"Plaintiff did not threaten Defendant Officers.
"Plaintiff was at the time seventy-five years old.
"Plaintiff had a heart condition, the treatment of which resulted in three stents and an arterial defibrillator having been placed in his chest.
"Plaintiff made Defendant Officers aware of his heart condition.
"Defendant Officers followed plaintiff into his office.
"Defendant Sgt. Larsen pointed a Taser shocking device at plaintiff, and began videotaping.
"Plaintiff began to fear for his safety and asked defendant Sgt. Larsen to stop pointing the gun at him.
"Defendants again informed plaintiff that he was not under arrest, and told him that the Taser was being used only as a recording device.
"Defendants then insisted that plaintiff had to go with them. They did not say where they were planning to take him.
"Plaintiff repeatedly told defendants that he did not want to go anywhere, that he wanted to stay in his home, and that he wanted the officers to leave.
"Plaintiff told Defendant Officers he was afraid they would kill him.
"Defendant Officers Birmingham and Wychor then grabbed plaintiff by the arms and legs, and began lifting him out of his chair. Plaintiff held on to the arms of his chair and said he did not want to leave.
"As the officer[s] were lifting plaintiff out of the chair, they lifted his leg.
"Defendants, in their later-filed reports, falsely accused plaintiff of kicking Sgt. Larsen.
"Defendant Sgt. Larsen shocked plaintiff with his Taser device in 'stun drive' mode, causing plaintiff severe pain.
"Plaintiff screamed, and told defendants he was in pain.
"Defendant Sgt. Larsen then shocked plaintiff with his Taser device, sending two prongs into plaintiff's chest and abdomen.
"Plaintiff screamed, held his heart and began complaining of heart pain.
"Defendants told plaintiff they would continue to shock him if he did stand up.
"Plaintiff stood, and then fell to the floor."
Van Raden claims that the officers told him he would get medical attention only if he got up and walked outside to a waiting ambulance.
"After plaintiff had been lying on the floor for several minutes complaining of chest pain, defendant Officer Wychor dragged him by his arms across the floor and placed him on a backboard," Van Raden says in the complaint.
He says he never threatened anyone, including himself, there was no reason to use force on him, much less excessive force, the cops knew he had not done anything wrong, that all three cops were much younger and stronger than he is, that they knew the Taser would inflict extreme pain upon him, and that Moorhead policy prohibits using Tasers on elderly people.
He seeks punitive damages for excessive force, false arrest, deprivation of medical care, personal injuries and constitutional violations.
He is represented by Leslie Lienemann, of St. Paul.
The local ABC News station reported on Aug. 15, 2011, that Van Raden had been arrested the day before after a tenant claimed Van Raden had pointed a shotgun at him and threatened him.
WDAY-TV, the ABC News station, reported Wednesday that Van Raden, now 77, denied the 2-year-old charges of second-degree assault and terroristic threats, but did not report the outcome of those charges.