Mom Says Deputies Tasered Her Son to Death

     RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – Riverside County sheriff’s officers Tasered a man to death after mistaking a call for assistance for a burglary call that came in about the same time, the dead man’s mother claims in court.
     Valerie Williams sued Riverside County, its Sheriff-Coroner Stanley Sniff and five officers allegedly involved in the death of her son, Anthony James Lawson.
     The sheriff’s deputies named as defendants in the Superior Court complaint are Jeremy Bracey, Ryan Rahner, Carlos Vasquez, Steven Lycopolus and John Kehrier.
     Williams claims she called 911 at 12:43 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2012, to ask for assistance with her son, who appeared to be incoherent at their home.
     On the way there, defendant Bracey heard another call notifying him of a burglary in the same area, Williams says in the complaint. She and her son lived in Eastvale, pop. 55,000, north of Corona.
     “Defendant Bracey mistakenly identified Lawson as the suspect in the burglary, called for backup and exited his marked service vehicle,” Williams says in the lawsuit.
     She says her son, who was “dripping in sweat and appeared to be incoherent,” complied with Lawson’s commands to step back and sit on the sidewalk. Her son was unarmed, did not pose a threat, and was obviously in need of medical attention, Williams says.
     After talking with Bracey, her son, still incoherent, walked away from the deputy and was stopped by defendant Deputy Rahner, who had just arrived, the mother says. She claims Rahner knew her son from previous contacts and knew he had a mental illness.
     Still incoherent, her son “was making animal-like sounds that indicated fear,” but officers did not call for medical assistance “until it was much too late,” she says.
     Defendant Deputy Lycopolus then arrived, shot her son nine times with an X26 Taser in less than 3 minutes and also struck him, Williams says. Elsewhere in the complaint, she says her son was struck with a baton.
     Williams says the shots “and the numerous blows to the head rendered Lawson unconscious and mortally wounded him.”
     The three deputies pinned him to the ground and tried to handcuff him, whereupon the final two deputies arrived and allegedly joined in.
     At 1:05 a.m. – 18 minutes after her 911 call – upon seeing that her son “was unresponsive and not breathing,” the deputies “finally summoned paramedics,” but did not render him first aid, Williams claims. “They simply turned him on his side and observed him foaming at the mouth.”
     Her son was declared dead at a hospital at 1:54 a.m.
     She seeks damages for cruel and unusual punishment, wrongful death, assault and battery, excessive force, civil rights violations, failure to train and supervise, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by Randy McMurray with McMurray Henriks, of Los Angeles.

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