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$3 Million Jury Award in Tasering Death of Schizophrenic Man

On March 2, 2009, a Harris County, Texas jury awarded the mother and estate of a man shocked to death by Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Deputies $3,000,000.

Joel Don Casey, a highly-functional schizophrenic, was calmly kicked back on the couch of his mother's home, smoking a cigar and listening to country music with his cowboy boots propped on the coffee table when the four constable's deputies arrived to take him into custody on a mental health warrant. Casey stood up and put his hands behind his back when told to do so. However, he complained that one of the handcuffs was too tight and hurting him. The deputies' response was to taser him.

Casey was tasered a total of 18 times in his mother's house and on the street in front of the police car while yelling, "I'm your friend, don't kill me, I'm your friend." Finally, deputies threw Casey to the ground and hogtied him. One deputy put a knee to Casey's neck and pulled his head back before they threw Casey into their car. Casey’s mother, Shirley Nagel, 74, told deputies, "You just killed my son." Unfortunately, she was right.

Casey's death was ruled a homicide caused by psychotic delirium with physical restraint and heart disease. Nagel filed a lawsuit alleging excessive and unreasonable force was used by the deputies. After 1 ½ hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Nagel $2.4 million and gave Casey's estate $600,000 in a 10-2 verdict. In doing so, the jury found that the county ratified the use of excessive force, three deputies failed to prevent the use of excessive force and the county's failure to train and supervise the deputies was a "moving force" causing the violation of Casey's civil rights.

Assistant Harris County Attorney Frank Sanders said the county would appeal.

Source: Houston Chronicle

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