No Damages for Tasered Paraplegic in Chicago

     CHICAGO (CN) – A Chicago man who became paraplegic after being Tasered by police and falling out a window cannot collect damages from the city, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
     Jarvis Payne’s family called police in November 2004. He had gotten high on crack, taken off his clothes, watched a pornographic movie and hallucinated that he was being attacked by gun-wielding assailants, according to the July 16 ruling from the First Appellate District of Illinois.
     Payne was pounding on the window, knocking over furniture, bleeding and calling for the police to help him. Police arrived and subdued him with a Taser, but he fell or jumped out of a second-story window.
     According to the court’s summary, Payne, who was 48 years old and used crack twice a week at the time, became a high-level paraplegic. He sued the city for battery and “willful and wanton misconduct.”
     Fire Battalion Chief Michael Concannon testified that Payne took a “powerful jump” out the window.
     Police Officer Travelle Stewart testified that one of the Taser prongs hit Payne, who then “got into like an Incredible Hulk move. And I thought I saw him pull the prongs out and he dove out the window.”
     Police Sgt. Dwayne Betts compared Payne’s action to Superman, noting that his hands and arms were extended and parallel to each other before he jumped out the window.
     Payne’s neighbor, Katrina Cavanaugh, who had come to help, testified that the force of the Taser knocked Payne out the window.
     Payne, who now can move only his head and upper shoulders, does not remember being Tasered.
     “The last thing I remember is, I was feeling paralyzed, and I fell through the window and I hit my head,” he said, according to the 23-page ruling.
     The trial court ruled in the city’s favor, citing the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, which covers police protection.
     Payne argued that the city did not have immunity, due to an exception for willful and wanton conduct in the execution and enforcement of the law.
     The appeals court confirmed the lower court’s ruling.
     “The police were providing a service and were not engaged in the execution or enforcement of the law at the time of the incident,” Justice Aurelia Pucinski wrote for the appeals court.
     She rebutted Payne’s argument that the police use of a Taser transformed the police into an enforcement of the law.
     “Plaintiff has not provided any argument or evidence of what law they were executing or enforcing at the time they used the Taser,” Pucinski wrote.

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