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Distraught Student Says School Officer Tased Him

JACKSON, Miss. (CN) - A high school student, distraught because his girlfriend had just lost both her legs in a car accident, says a Pearl High School teacher reprimanded him for a "public display of affection" because his twin sister put her arm around him. Then, he says, a Pearl Police officer at the school "physically grabbed" him, dragged him to an assistant principal's office and shot him three times with a Taser, in front of "several Pearl High School principals."

"Who told you to sit down?" Pearl Police Department Officer Shawn Terwilliger told him in the assistant principal's office, Jimmy McAlpin says in his federal complaint. "Get up!"

"Several Pearl High School principals than entered the room. Without warning, Officer Terwilliger proceeded to taze Jimmy McAlpin three times." (Spelling and underlining as in complaint.)

McAlpin's father says his son, then 17, is an "extraordinary" student, who had perfect attendance. But the needless and senseless assault in the school office "forced the family ... to uproot their lives and relocate away from the Pearl, Mississippi area," and Jimmy "is now in a state of permanent fear for his life, and has sought psychological treatment as a result of this incident," according to the complaint.

It all began on Oct. 5, 2008, when Jimmy was "waiting at church for his girlfriend to pick him up. Tragically, Jimmy McAlpin's girlfriend was involved in a severe automobile accident on the way to pick Jimmy up, which resulted in the loss of both of her legs," the complaint states.

The next day, when his twin sister "came to his side, placing her arm around her brother in an attempt to console him," an "unidentified teacher at Pearl High School approached the brother and sister and admonished them for their 'public display of affection,'" according to the complaint.

"Soon after the unidentified teacher's reprimand," Terwilliger, "Pearl High School compliance officer and active member of the Pearl Police Department," grabbed Jimmy, took him to the office and Tasered him three times, apparently because he had "sat down in a chair," according to the complaint.

The family seeks punitive damages from the City of Pearl, the Pearl Public School District, and Shawn Terwilliger, in his official and personal capacities.

The McAlpins allege civil assault and battery, rights violations, medical expenses, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence and recklessness. They are represented by Dennis C. Sweet III of Jackson.

Pearl, a city of 22,000 is in Rankin County, just east of Jackson, the state capital.

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