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City Of San Leandro, California Pays $395,000 To Family Of Detainee Who Died After 21 Taser Shocks

The two minor children of Jose Perez settled his wrongful death action with the City of San Leandro, California in May 2007 for $395,000. While the children?s mother was also included in the settlement, the bulk went into a trust to support the children.

Jose Perez, Jr., the children?s father, visited his ex-wife Andrea Castillo?s residence in violation of a court order. When she called police, they found Perez quite uncooperative. He first fled, then when later accosted, grabbed officer Corti?s baton. In response, Corti tasered Perez in the hip, to no effect. Corti tasered Perez several more times in the stomach, when he was joined by officer Degrano, who put a 30-second carotid lock on Perez? neck ? until Perez turned blue. After being handcuffed and taken to the police station, still kicking officers (until leg restraints were added), Perez was determined to be under the influence of a controlled substance. Still fighting at each stage of booking, Perez was repeatedly tasered. The last two taser shocks were to Perez? palm, after which he went limp and was pronounced dead.

The coroner determined that Perez died as a result of ?methamphetamine intoxication associated with physical exertion.? The autopsy also noted 21 visible taser marks. Perez? family attorney alleged in a federal civil rights complaint that the officers misused the taser in such circumstances, amounting to cruel and unusual punishment that restricted his breathing and directly caused his death. It is known that being on drugs while shocked with a taser is an especially deadly combination. The suit therefore alleged improper training of the officers on the proper and reasonable use of stun guns. Plaintiffs sought $10 million in damages.

The $395,000 settlement, with no admission of liability, resulted in the suit being dismissed in June 2007. The family was represented by Oakland attorneys John Burriss and Benjamin Nisenbaum. See: T.P. v. City of San Leandro, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 3:06-cv-06009-CRB.

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