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Tasered to death

Published time: July 21, 2011 17:25
Edited time: July 21, 2011 22:03
The Taser X26 gun (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)

The Taser X26 gun (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)

What’s the cost of the life of a 17-year-old boy? A federal jury is saying $10 million, but Taser International doesn’t quite agree.

The Arizona-based manufacturers of the controversial Taser police weapon say that they will be appealing a recent ruling in which a federal court has held them responsible for the 2008 death of Darryl Wayne Turner. Police officers used the gadget on the boy twice before he went into cardiac arrest and died.

During the March 2008 incident that took the life of Turner, a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina tased him twice, once for 37 seconds and again for another five. A federal court ruled that Taser International did not provide adequate warning or instruction to the Charlotte PD, and that proper knowledge could have prevented the death from occurring.

The estate of Turner filed the wrongful death suit back in 2010, though a payment figure was not reached until yesterday.

Three years ago, Turner allegedly argued with a manager at the North Carolina grocery store where he was employed. Following the dispute, reports suggest he knocked over a counter-top display and threw a small object. Police were called to the scene and apparently located three small bags of marijuana in Turner’s sock. Before the incident could end, however, he was tased twice and killed.

Taser International says that neither the evidence of drugs nor the disclosure of a pre-existing heart condition of Turner’s were introduced to the jury that awarded the settlement. The weapon manufacturer have responded in a statement saying, "We can certainly understand how the jury felt deep compassion for Mr. Turner's family, and how this compassion may have overwhelmed the scientific evidence presented in this case . . . However, given the important nature of this case and the exclusion of key evidence that occurred, Taser International intends to appeal this verdict."

"I'm glad the verdict was in our favor, but we're definitely not celebrating," Turner’s mother, Tammy Fontenot, tells the Associated Press. "It cannot bring back my son's life. Hopefully, it will help others in the future dealing with Tasers."

Taser adds that the $10 million verdict will be offset by a settlement from the city of Charlotte, a settlement related to worker’s compensation, and also largely by their insurance if their appeal is not accepted.

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