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Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Officers Aren’t Off The Hook For Man’s Tasering

DENVER (CN) - The 10th Circuit has revived the excessive-force claims of a man who was "grabbed, tackled, Tasered and beaten" by city police officers because he briefly took his court file outside a Colorado municipal courthouse.

Edward Casey left the courthouse in Federal Heights, Co., with his file in order to get money in his truck to pay a traffic ticket.

When he tried to re-enter, Officer Kevin Sweet accosted him and told him to return to his truck. Casey explained that his 8-year-old daughter was in the courthouse using the restroom, and that he needed to return the file.

Sweet asked for the file, but didn't take it when Casey held out his briefcase with the file visible in an outside pocket. Casey then tried to step around Sweet to take the file to the cashier.

"Without further explanation or discussion, Officer Sweet then grabbed Mr. Casey's arm and put it in a painful arm-lock," the ruling states. When Casey made another move toward the door, Sweet jumped on his back, ripping his shirt.

Officer Malee Lor arrived, heard that Casey "needed to be controlled," and fired her M26 Taser at him. With the help of other officers, the ruling states, Sweet and Lor brought Casey to the ground, handcuffed him and "repeatedly banged his face into the concrete." Lor Tasered him again for trying to escape.

Casey was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer. He sued Sweet and Lor for use of excessive force, but a district court granted summary judgment to the defendants.

In its reversal, the circuit ruled that although "there might be circumstances in which the use of a Taser against a nonviolent offender is appropriate, we think a reasonable jury could decide that Officer Lor was not entitled ... to shoot first and ask questions later." See ruling.

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