JOPLIN, Mo. (CN) – The widow of a Vietnam veteran says sheriff’s deputies Tasered her husband 16 times and sprayed him with four cans of pepper spray, abusing him with “disproportionate and inexplicable fury” merely because he was parking his truck to walk the dogs.
Christine Works sued Newton County Sheriff’s deputies Stephen Cathers and Don Hollingshead in Federal Court.
Works says she was traveling with her late husband, Larry, on July 29, 2006 when he parked his truck at a rest area in Newton County.
“Larry Works, now deceased, was a truck driver from Tennessee, who was attempting to park his truck to walk his dogs. Defendant Stephen Cathers ordered Mr. Works to park somewhere else and became immediately and inordinately enraged,” the widow says.
She adds: “Although Mr. Works did not offer any active resistance, Officer Cathers and the officers he called for backup shot Mr. Works with Tasers multiple times, continuing to Tase Mr. Works after he was immobilized.
“As a result, Mr. Works suffered physical damage and emotional distress for the remainder of his life.”
She says several deputies showed up, broke the window of her husband’s truck with flashlights and Tasered him inside the truck, causing him to fall out of it and onto the ground.
“After Mr. Works was out of his truck and on the ground, defendants continued to Tase Mr. Works, applying a hand-held Taser to Mr. Works’ right rear shoulder and his left rear shoulder,” the widow says. “The officers Tased Mr. Works three to four times after he was on the ground.
“While Mr. Works was on the ground, incapacitated from multiple Tasings, and offering no resistance, Officer Cathers beat Mr. Works with his fists, so much so that it caused pain in his own hands.
“The officers stopped Tasing and beating Mr. Works when Christine Works informed them that Mr. Works was a Vietnam veteran.
“In total, Mr. Works was shot with 16 Taser darts from Tasers used by the Newton County Sheriff’s Department. The department also used four cans of pepper spray on Mr. Works.
“At no point did Mr. Works offer active resistance to the officers.”
Works says her husband suffered blood poisoning from the excessive Tasing 30 days later and felt its effects until his death on Nov. 9, 2009.
“After the Tasing incident, Mr. Works experienced permanent side effects, including seizure-like twitching, burning in the eyes and nose, chest pain, and blurry vision,” the complaint states. “In particular, late in the day, after being awake for many hours, Mr. Works would experience twitching and a loss of muscle control. Mr. Works experienced these symptoms from the time of his Tasing and beating until his death.”
Works seeks damages for unconstitutional use of force, negligence and loss of consortium. She is represented by Mark Dugan with Dugan Schlozman of Overland Park, Kan.