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Taser and Asphyxiation Death By New Mexico Cops Leads to $1,000,000 Settlement

The City of Raton, New Mexico has agreed to pay $1,000,000 to the estate of a man who died after police Tasered him 23 times and essentially asphyxiated him.

On November 18, 2007, in the wee hours of the morning, Raton police responded to a call for service. When police arrived at the scene, Jesse Saenz was discovered acting irrationality on the front lawn of his girlfriend’s residence. Saenz was high on cocaine at the time.

Saenz was arrested and did not resist. However, when the police attempted to put Saenz in the back of a patrol unit, Saenz refused, putting up a struggle. Police them “bump-tased” Saenz 23 times in his neck. A “bump-tase” involves the direct application of a Taser to an individual instead of using Taser darts.

Saenz was eventually placed in the backseat of the patrol car. An officer then sat on Saenz’s lower back and hips to keep Saenz subdued. Saenz was handcuffed behind his back and face down during the ten minute ride to the jail.

When the officers arrived at the jail, Saenz was dead. The coroner’s report found that the “means of physical restraint significantly contributed to Saenz’s death.” Suenz’s estate sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The city settled for its insurance limit of $1,000,000 on July 7, 2010. Suenz’s estate was represented by Robert Rothstein of Santa Fe, New Mexico. See: Saenz v. City of Raton, USDC NM, Case No. 6:09-cv-00030-MCA-ACT (D.N.M. 2010).

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Related legal case

Saenz v. City of Raton