Another Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Taser
Police brutality may also be at issue
By Gerri Elder
Parents of a 24-year-old man who apparently died after he was shot with a Taser weapon by law enforcement filed a personal injury lawsuit in federal court against the company that manufactures the weapons. They also filed a separate lawsuits against an Ohio police department and the sponsoring city.
The parents of Kevin Piskura, a 2006 graduate of Miami University in Ohio, filed the personal injury and product liability lawsuit against Taser International, the city of Oxford, Ohio and the Oxford Police Department, according to the Oxford Press. The suit was filed on April 19 in the U.S. District Court of Cincinnati.
“This was an important case to them in terms of making sure the police departments understand the consequences of the use of a Taser,” attorney W. Craig Bashein said. Bashein is the lead attorney representing Piskura’s parents.
Oxford Police earlier claimed in April 2008 that Kevin Piskura and a friend were involved in an altercation with bouncers and other security staff in front of the Brick Street Bar, according to the WCPO broadcast network. Police said the conflict started within the bar around 2 a.m. but then escalated outside.
Kevin Piskura was reportedly trying to help his friend while officers were arresting him, and confronted both bar staff and officers at the scene, according to WCPO.
Officers warned the two men to stop fighting, and while the other man stopped, Piskura reportedly kept fighting. Police then used the Taser on Piskura.
Police at the time said they noticed that after Piskura was subdued and handcuffed that his breathing seemed labored. Other witnesses to the conflict said emergency medical technicians gave Piskura oxygen as he was placed into an ambulance while on a gurney.
Five days later, Piskura died after a stay at an area hospital while listed in critical condition, according to the Oxford Press.
“It’s our position that Taser has failed to inform police departments on the risk of using the device,” Bashein said. “I think police departments, as the time this occurred, were of the belief that this could be used without the risk of death.”
This is not the first wrongful death lawsuit relating to police use of Tasers. Bashein claimed that Taser International has not been forthcoming enough about the full range of potential Taser injuries, and have left law enforcement in the dark. He further said that the officer who fired the Taser was not in immediate danger at the hands of Piskura.
Oxford Police initially banned all use of Tasers after Piskura died, but then brought them back into play with more restrictions on how and when they can be used. Tasers can’t be used in Oxford on people who are noticeably intoxicated, mentally or physically disabled or people who aren’t acting violently.