GALLATIN, Tenn. (CN) - A mother says she saw Gallatin police officers sic a police dog on her son while he was handcuffed and then Taser him to death, because they thought he had filed a false police report. The man had called police because he thought his mother was missing.
The wife and mother of the late Jeffery Woodward say he went into cardiac arrest and died after the needless attack by police officers. The family also Taser International, claiming it misrepresents its products as non-lethal and safe.
Jeffery Woodward called police on Oct. 27, 2009, "to report a home invasion and that his mother was in danger. Jeffery Woodward was under the impression that someone had kidnapped his mother," according to the complaint in Sumner County Court.
The complaint continues: "(E)n route to the call, police officers spotted Mr. Woodward walking down the street with a knife. An officer asked Mr. Woodward to surrender the knife and he did so immediately."
The officers cuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car and drove to his house, where they found his mother, safe. They accused Woodward of filing a false police report. The officers took Woodward out of the patrol car, still in handcuffs, and when he became "agitated," they sicced a dog on him.
"While on the ground with a police canine on top of him, officers subjected him to multiple Taser applications," the complaint states. "Eyewitnesses report that during this time, Mr. Woodward was crying out, 'Help me! Help me!' and that his mother was pleading with officers not to kill her son. ...
"(T)he gratuitous use of force by the defendant officers against the decedent was unnecessary and resulted in severe injuries and death."
Woodward's wife and mother say the Gallatin Police Department has a history of allowing its officers to use excessive and illegal force on civilians, failing to discipline the officers for it, and covering for them by falsely claiming that the beatings were "justified and proper."
They seek damages from Taser International for product liability, misrepresentation and breach of warranty.
According to Amnesty International USA, more than 351 people have died in the United States since June 2001 after being shocked by police Tasers.
Woodward's family are represented by Joe Bednarz of Nashville.
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