South Carolina Taser Incident
On October 16, police in Kingstree, South Carolina—a small town in Williamsburg County that is roughly equidistant from Charleston, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach—received a 911 call about a white Ford SUV that was allegedly tailgating other vehicles.
After a brief, quarter-mile police chase, the driver of the SUV—an 86-year-old grandfather—stopped and got out of the vehicle, just as he was approached by members of the Kingstree Police Department. What happened next remained in dispute—until dashcam video of the incident emerged last month.
Video shows the driver (who reportedly is prone to occasional bouts of confusion), putting his hands in the air and then retreating from a trio of law enforcement officers after walking out of his own shoes.
The officers attempt to handcuff the unarmed 86-year-old, at which point the elderly man pulls away and retreats further.
One of the officers then tasers the victim, who falls and hits his head on the pavement, suffering a broken nose, as well as cuts to his head and face.
After EMT’s arrived on the scene, the injured man was taken to Williamsburg Regional Hospital and subsequently transferred to McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, where he spent several weeks in intensive care thanks to bleeding on the brain, which necessitated a medically-induced coma.
In the police report, officers attempted to justify the tasing by arguing it was done to prevent the man from being struck down by passing traffic, yet the only automobile seen in the dashcam video is backing away from the confrontation, which lasted less than 45 seconds.
“Quick and Considerable” Settlement
The Kingstree Police Department quickly reached a $900,000 settlement with the victim and his family shortly after the video became public, a settlement that the victim’s attorney described as “one of the quickest and most considerable” for a South Carolina Taser injury.
In the above-linked article in the South Strand News, the victim’s attorney elaborated, saying, “[this] elderly man in a bout of confusion posed no threat and the officers’ justification for the take-down contradicted the video.”
But if there’s a bright side to this case, it’s that the incident can serve as a learning opportunity.
“It’s very unfortunate that such a learning session has to come at the expense of an 86-year-old grandfather. But it’s an opportunity to look at Taser training and try to stop it from happening to somebody else,” continued the victim’s attorney. “Not everyone who doesn’t listen to a directive from law enforcement has an intent to hurt somebody…. You can’t just tase people to gain compliance. That’s a change we need to see.”
As of this writing, no charges have been filed against the officers, and the victim continues to recover at a long-term care facility.
Pattern of Excessive Force Taser Cases
Last week, we wrote about a pattern of excessive force lawsuits in Allentown, Penn., by citizens who claimed they suffered injuries after being tasered by police.
These incidents are just a few of many that happened during 2017.
Taser incidents can cause significant damage, and lawsuits have proven to be a way to hold law enforcement accountable and receive adequate compensation for the harm done in these instances.
As partner David Raybin said in our press release, “Federal law provides a civil remedy to compensate citizens whose rights have been violated, which also serves to hold law enforcement accountable.”
How Our Law Firm Can Help with a Taser Case
If you have been a victim of what you believe to be the improper use of Tasers or stun guns by police, we encourage you to call us at 615-256-6666 for a free, no obligation consultation. Experienced Taser attorneys are few and far between, and it’s vital to work with a law firm that has experience with excessive force cases.
Similarly, if you’re an attorney outside of Tennessee looking for help with a case in your state, don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at the above phone number. We fight to get justice for victims of excessive force.