Texas Family Offered $2 million in Taser Injury Settlement
The city government in Fort Worth, Texas offered a record $2 million to settle a personal injury lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died last year after he was shocked by Taser during a conflict with police officers.
According to an agenda item posted on the city’s website on May 14, the Fort Worth City Council is expected to take a final vote on the injury settlement at a meeting on May 18. The settlement amount will be the single largest ever offered in a case involving an injury or death, Fort Worth Assistant City Attorney Gerald Pruitt told the Dallas Morning News.
"This is a civil-rights case; there’s no cap,” Pruitt said. The city is not admitting any liability in the settlement.
Michael Patrick Jacobs, Jr. died on April 18, 2009 after he was shocked by a Taser weapon for 54 seconds. Jacobs, who was 24 when he died, suffered from mental illness.
Police responded to his family’s residence that night because he was acting aggressively while off his medication, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Three Fort Worth police officers arrived at the family’s home and attempted to calm Jacobs down. One officer warned Jacob that he would be hit with a Taser if he did not stop what he was doing. Jacobs then moved towards the officer and reportedly said, “Go ahead, I’ve always wanted to see what that feels like anyway.”
The officer who fired the Taser at Jacobs said she held the weapon’s trigger for about 49 seconds the first time it was fired at Jacobs. She said that afterward she shocked him again for five seconds.
The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office declared Jacobs’ death to be homicide, according to the Morning News. However, the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing and a grand jury did not indict them on any charges.
Jacobs’ family then sued the city, claiming that officers were not trained properly to use Tasers, and that in this case they used excessive force. The city responded by saying it was immune to the suit.
“The city maintains that the Taser is a useful non-lethal use-of-force option for our police officers,” City Spokesman Jason Lamers said in a statement. “And although we could have fought this in court, we believe this settlement is the right thing to do to allow both the city and the Jacobs family to move forward.”