Stanley James Harlan, 23, is dead after a police officer fired a Taser at him during a traffic stop early Thursday morning.
Harlan had been pulled over near Moberly after the officer suspected him of drunk driving.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the officer then attempted to place Harlan under arrest when he began to resist. The officer said he was forced to use his Taser twice in order to subdue Harlan.
Harlan became unresponsive after the Taser firings and neither police nor paramedics were able to resuscitate him.
Further investigation, including an autopsy, is scheduled for later this week.
If Harlan was driving drunk, then he was committing a crime that could have injured other innocent people. That does not justify, though, the use of deadly force by an officer.
Since Tasers became commonplace in a police officer?s arsenal, more than 300 hundred people have been killed by them. Missouri police regard tasers as non-lethal and use them to subdue unruly suspects. We have seen numerous times that tasers can, in fact, be lethal and yet police officers continue to deploy them at inappropriate times.
It is also hard for families of those killed by taser fire to win verdicts in wrongful death cases. Since tasers are seen as non-lethal, it is hard to convince the courts that their use is excessive. There are also sovereign immunity rules that make it hard to collect damages from any government entity, including the police. This being the case, families of taser victims should still contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. While the chances of a winning a wrongful death lawsuit are slim, each case is different and there is always the possibility of a settlement.
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